Crowds filled the stalls of Nottingham’s Theatre Royal tonight to bear witness to and become part of an outstanding version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s original Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Kenwright’s production lives up to what we would all expect from this classic feel-good musical in a simple yet energetic revival of its family friendly, universal themes.
The adaptation of the Biblical story from the Book of Genesis tracks the tale of Joseph, his father Jacob, his eleven brothers and a very special ‘coat of many colours’. Racked with jealousy of Joseph’s favouritism as son number one, eleven men sell their brother off as a slave, he is taken to Egypt and there he begins labour for the millionaire Potiphar. In his struggle we see Joseph thrown in prison, use his dream interpretation skills to help the Pharaoh and stop the impending famine, thus freeing him, whilst the rest of Act II depicts his siblings’ journey to Egypt, forgiveness and a jubilant reunion.
Keith Jack proves himself as a more than worthy runner up in the BBC’s hunt for a new Joseph. He asserts that any dream would not do, now successfully establishing that his youthful portrayal of our central character is one to be recognised. His defining moment is the tender desperation and sorrow created in his sweet rendition of Close Every Door, made even more moving with the soft support of the young Joseph Choir from AGF Performing Arts.
The performance is defined by its tight, action-packed choreography. Metcalfe’s artistic flair keeps the audience guessing with the stage’s lively and animated vibe. High energy levels are particularly remarkable in the chorus acts, with the main attention drawn to the enthusiasm in every brother’s step. Movements are diverse, multi-layered, inventive and in all the right parts, extremely amusing (of course, the appearance of a dancing wooden camel does help add to the entertainment factor too).
Not only the coat, but the production as a whole is one of many colours. What we all expect from a musical based around amazing technicolour is vivid visual appeal, and this is delivered in bucket loads through the fantastically dazzling costumes and set design; a vibrancy which is mirrored in the incredible reawakening of some of Webber’s most significant music, notably in Luke Jasztal’s interpretation of Elvis style Pharaoh, complimented naturally with his lively, shaking hips. The upbeat revival of the catchy, memorable tunes make the audience want to get involved, an opportunity which was taken up by many during the massive, full of life finale in disco/rock medley Joseph’s Megamix.
The standing ovation secures Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’s top ranking in long-standing musical popularity. So, go, go, go Kenwright, you’ve done the original proud.