Touring – reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking
I think I’m probably in a theatre minority of people who actually like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I know it’s kind of cheesy and a mishmash of things but I grew up watching the recorded version and absolutely loved it; looking back Donny Osmond was probably my first childhood crush and all I aspired to be when I grew up was Maria Friedman! I was in a school production of Joseph and I did see a touring production of it when I was about 10 but I honestly don’t remember it so this was really my first experience of seeing it live.
From the outset it was exactly what I expected: cheesy but fun. There’s no getting around the fact that its a childish show but what they’ve done really well with this production is really play on that childish humour. The usual moments which are more sexy or grown up, have been changed to suit a younger audience and it really works. This is never going to be a show aimed at adults who want a life-changing theatrical experience so why not make it fully for kids?!
Whilst the general vibe is like a children’s TV programme, the cast are grown up and outstanding. Joe McElderry as Joseph is wonderful and he performs the role with conviction whilst adding his own spin. Joe’s voice is stunning and rings out with emotion and power throughout, especially in the classic, ‘Close Every Door’. Trina Hill plays the narrator fantastically. She is suitably animated as if telling children a bed time story and her voice is out of this world. Contrastingly to Maria Friedman, Trina belts for her life and completely wows the audience. Her technique is sensational and I was honesty blown away at how clear and strong her voice is.
The rest of the cast and ensemble work well together to create the somewhat magical and crazy world in which the story takes place. A special mention has to go to Matt Jolly (Gad) who has a beautiful solo moment during ‘Those Canaan Days’ which was just lovely.
Sean Canvanagh’s staging is simple with just a few moving parts and mostly props brought on and off to show various changes. The children’s choir who provide the backing vocals are sat either side of the stage for the majority of the show whilst joining in for some sweet choral moments. Nick Riching’s lighting works well, adding warmth and drama to the action although the “flash of light” does get a little repetitive.
As I say, this show is definitely more for kids than adults and I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours and the cast do an impeccable job from start to end.