Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is celebrating 50 years, by returning to the London Palladium, with a brand new production of the show this Summer.
Having seen countless productions of Joseph over the years, I was intrigued to see what had been done to bring this show up to date and whether it worked or whether they should have taken the age old advice of ‘don’t mess with a classic’. It happens rarely in theatre but every now and then, within the first five minutes of a show, you can find yourself questioning whether the box office will be open at the interval so you can buy a ticket to the next performance. That is a sign of a good show and I was consistently screaming FIVE STARS in my head throughout the entire performance.
Sheridan Smith is at her best in this production, seemingly living her best life and beaming radiantly throughout. It really is the Sheridan Smith Show (and I am totally ok with that). She has been allowed to make it her own, playing many different parts, breaking the forth wall and even doing the famous robot dance with the kids. Director Laurence Connor said: “The narrator is usually sort of a school teacher talking to her children but I wanted someone who could expand their imagination and take them on a journey where they take the narrative and control it” and Sheridan Smith does exactly that.
Yet to graduate from drama school, newcomer Jac Yarrow does a wonderful job as the lead character Joseph. He breathes youth and innocence into the role and is definitely a star in the making. I’m not usually a lover of mid-show standing ovations but the one given after his rendition of Close Every Door was very well deserved. Jason Donovan doesn’t appear until act two, playing the (thankfully) small part of Pharaoh. Sadly he really brings the quality of the production down. His singing is mostly inaudible and although he is seemingly trying very hard, he barely hits any of the intended notes. However, it is a nice tip of the hat to have him in the production as he played the lead role back in 1991 so in terms of ‘star casting’ you can’t really argue with his inclusion in the show – I for one was happy to see him there.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is stunningly cinematic and it would be a crying shame not to have this production filmed and broadcast on TV over the Christmas period. It is a feast for the eyes with colour and vibrancy, children playing adult parts, life size camel puppets, dancers doing the can can and even a tap dance number.
If Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a biblical telling of the the Book Of Genesis, then take me to church and put Sheridan Smith in the pulpit because with a production of this high a quality, I’m really to learn all the other stories from the bible too.
Reviewed by West End Wilma