Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat UK Tour (Theatre Royal Plymouth) Review
Updated: May 3, 2022
After starting life as a short performance in a school, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Tim Rice’s ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has gone from strength to strength and many a theatre fan now sees it as a classic. Over the years, productions of this sung through Bible story stage adaptation have bounced through the West End, over Broadway and all over the country in UK Tours, and in 2019 it returned to the home of variety, The London Palladium, in a sparkling new production by Michael Harrison productions.
Whilst, over the years, Joseph as a show, has hardly changed at all, this Palladium production does give it a little bit of a twist by giving the narrator and the children’s chorus more roles to play throughout. But don’t worry, it’s still the Joseph we know and love with its sung through staging and elements of the costumes and staging that look like they’ve been constructed straight out of a school’s art supplies cupboard. That’s just Joseph, and the way that it always should be in my opinion. But back to those updates.
In this production, the role of the narrator (played in this UK touring show by Alexandra Burke), is extended as she takes on not only the narrator’s numerous songs but also the roles of Jacob and Potiphar’s wife. This allows for some great comedic moments, and Burke revelled in the regular breaking of the fourth wall. Burke impresses throughout, joining in with the lively dance numbers with a sense of joy and loads of energy proving that pregnancy hasn’t slowed her down. She displays a flair for comedy when jumping from character to character and her vocals soared over the packed auditorium.
Having stepped into the famous dream coat fresh from Drama school in 2019 for the London Palladium run, which he returned to in 2021, Jac Yarrow once again dons the coat of many colours for this UK touring production, showcasing the skill and talent that won him both the role in the first place and many an award nomination and win. He makes the role of Joseph entirely his own, lovable, charming, and cheeky in places, he wins over the audience with his and his rendition of ‘Close Every Door’ is the best version that I have heard. There is no denying that this young man, who has already achieved so much, is going to go on to do incredible things.
In this reimagined version of the show, the children’s chorus is much more widely used with child performers taking on the role of Potiphar and 4 of Joseph’s brothers. The children’s performances were impressive throughout, especially Ocean Monilal who took on the role of Judah and sung the opening verse of the iconic ‘Benjamin Calypso’. As impressive as it was to see children taking on some of the adult roles, and as good as Joshua What as at playing the role of Potiphar, I can’t be the only one thinking that it was perhaps a little bit odd to see a child and a grown-up woman playing husband and wife with Burke playing the role of Mrs Potiphar. After all, Potiphar does say the line ‘You’re mine’ after the audience are told of Mrs Potiphar’s attraction to other men. The child cast also included Bryson Decker (Gad) Luke Jury (Baker/Zebuline), Poppy Mei Soon (Butler), Roxy Relf (Goat), Naomi Lim and Blythe Railton.
The adult cast taking on the roles of the brothers included Shane Antony-Whitely, Jabari Braham, Tyler Ephraim, Zac Frieze, Matt Gibson, Will Hawksworth and Sam Stones, and they all made it look easy to perform the variety of song styles that this production is famous for. From western hoedown and cancan to rock and roll and calypso, the switches were effortless and the dance numbers flawless. Bobby Windebank earned plenty of applause for his performance as the Las Vegas Elvis style Pharoah, with ‘Song of the King’ delighting the audience.
Just a little thing, a little nit-pick if you will. I said this back in 2019 when I saw this new staging at the London Palladium and I have to say it again here, yes, the narrator gets an even bigger role here and yes, she does perform in the majority of the songs, but it’s called Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream coat, so why does the narrator get the final bow? Surely that last moment in the curtain call should belong to the performer playing the role of Joseph. Just maybe, but that’s my thoughts on it anyway.
Now, yes, Joseph has been around for many years, and over those years, I have heard many say that maybe it has done its time. Some may call it dated, some others may state that it is a little bit too over the top, a little bit too much panto in its style and appearance, but to me, that’s just Joseph. With its sung through leap and dash through various song styles, plus comedic puppetry with some prop sheep and camels and many an obviously fake beard, the playful chaos that Joseph has always had is retained in this Palladium reimagining. At its heart, under the flashy dance routines and bigger than ever sets, it is still that school performance, the bible story brought to life in a way that captures the imagination of children and adults alike, and overall, that is what makes it so wonderful.
You can book tickets to see Joseph out on tour here https://uktour.josephthemusical.com/tour-dates/