Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
I cannot believe I have never been to this show in my 36 years on this earth! I took my Mum along, who has seen it twice before but she insisted that this was her favourite interpretation due mostly to the cast.
We watched the show at Bradford Alhambra, which is a modest sized theatre just a few minutes walk from Bradford train station, with a car-park just around the corner. It has two bars inside, and the usual snacks kiosks. The auditorium is stunning inside, with comfortable seating and very friendly staff.
The tale is set not long after the Bible began, and introduces us to Jacob and his 12 sons. Joseph (Joe McElderry) is the favourite son, and his father gives him a beautiful coat of many colours which strikes fury and jealousy amongst his brothers. They sell him into slavery, telling their father that he died saving their lives from a beast. Joseph is taken to Egypt and bought by Potiphar, but an unfortunate turn of events lands him in jail. However, his ability to interpret dreams grants him favour with the Pharaoh and he has an opportunity to both save Egypt from a great famine, and his brothers lives too.
The plot is really fast moving but easy to follow as it is narrated throughout by Lucy Kay.
Joe McElderry was phenomenal. His acting, singing and stage presence are a rarity I was completely blown away. His rendition of “Close Every Door” was so emotional and he meant every word, it was simply stunning. In the final scenes were he sings the iconic “Any Dream Will Do’ his voice is so controlled and powerful, yet he is beaming and waving naturally to audience members on all tiers of the theatre. This man has totally won me over and I would see any show that he appears in. In fact, I would be first in the queue. The fact that he is looking really quite buff these days is an added bonus!
Lucy Kay shows such emotion and power in her voice, no-one could perform the role of Narrator better. In fact, the entire casting were perfect.
The brothers’ rendition of “One More Angel in Heaven” was one of my favourites, though there wasn’t a poor performance in any part of the show. I adored the children’s choir, which featured throughout, as it was nice to have that juxtaposition of innocence against the ordeals Joseph was being forced to encounter.
What was really unique about this show was that it covered so many genres of music; not really what I was expecting considering it was set in Egypt, and nor did I expect the humour within the show. There was country music/dancing, Jazz, Gospel, and a of course the amazing Pharaoh with his Elvis impersonation. The latter was unexpected and utterly brilliant, complete with cheerleaders and dancing jocks. There was so much variety and pace to the show, a strong storyline, likeable cast and so many surprises.
The final scene between Joseph and Jacob was just stunning, tender and un-rushed; in great contrast to the building of the finale with the Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Joseph is what I would describe as a proper musical; not a movie or vague concept that has been transformed into a musical. It has humour, dark and light moments with a first class cast. The staging is quite simple as there is so much going on with the actual performances, but the tiered steps prevent the stage from becoming over crowded with the relatively large cast, and also make for some energetic musical numbers as actors are able to move around. They also allow the Narrator to be part of the story without intruding on the action. In fact, the choreography of the Narrator was really very precise, as there were moments when she was with Joseph and feeling his despair, and others where you forget she was there and simply heard her voice.
A first class show and an outstanding leading man, 5/5 stars. Without doubt my favourite musical!
Tickets cost from £15 to £32 (booking fees may apply).
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at the Alhmabra Theatre in Bradford from 4-8 April 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.bradford-theatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01274 432000.
Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ | 01274 432000