Venue: Grand Opera House, York
This fresh presentation of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ was nothing less than a family-fun extravaganza; on-stage the cast brought this fairly simple musical to life through a series of well choreographed dances, complimentary lighting designs and a host of talent. The popularity to come was evident from the first night, which saw a very nearly sold out theatre.
It was evident that the staging had been thoroughly correlated with stagecraft; the side set pieces showed evidence of intricate design whilst the main stage consisted of two staircases either side with a platform in the middle. All three areas were used energetically throughout and gave a real dimensional sense to the performance. However the best use came right at the end of the performance with the final demonstration of Joseph’s coat to the audience; they certainly did manage to achieve all of the colours of the rainbow.
Some of the most comedic aspects were in fact generated by the set, most notably the inflatable (ingenious) sheep. Unfortunately one did not manage to make to full standing height and preceded to droop through the first few songs- a blip for stage management perhaps, but with a show that borders on pantomime, it only added to the entertainment factor.
The most adorable aspect of the show came in two parts; firstly the York stagecoach children’s choir who remained on stage throughout the musical and began the second act with a solo performance. The beautiful sound of their voices in union reminded the audience of the nostalgic and family-driven nature of the Joseph story (it is after all ultimately about a father losing and being reunited with his son). Admittedly they did seem to struggle a little with the opening of the second act with some of the vocals coming across a little weaker compared to the strength of the first. However you could see from their smiling faces that they were having a whale of a time on stage; and what more is ‘Joseph’ about than having a good time?
The second most adorable aspect was Benjamin played by ‘George Knapper’ Jacob’s youngest son and sole sympathiser among the eleven brothers to their fathers favouritism of Joseph. Knapper had no solo lines but his body language and facial expressions alone did more than enough to convey a truly empathetic character, so much so in the end it almost turned me against Joseph himself through his actions against his youngest brother.
With a production of ‘Joseph’ you know you are onto a big-seller with the music and plot alone. However this performance was heavily advertised with ‘Joe McElderry’ as the star in the role of ‘Joseph’ and it has to be said that this previous X Factor winner did not disappoint. After watching the particular series of the X Factor where Joe was victorious I remember thinking that his voice would be very suited to musical theatre. Strong vocals throughout the cast carried the performance, but it Joe’s talent was clear when he began to sing, sometimes to the diminishment of his fellow cast members. ‘Lucy Kay’, for instance, gave a magnificent and fitting performance, but did seem to struggle with some of the top notes and diction.
This was certainly a show full of surprises- from the sheep to the set and the performance of the cast and it ended in a very suitable fashion with a montage of all the songs. I didn’t get the chance to time it but it did last a fair chunk of the second act. The willingness of the audience to clap along from start to finish, continuously screaming for more simply demonstrates how they could not get enough of this performance; so much so that they wanted to watch the whole thing again.