The theatrical behemoth that is Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first performed musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, really needs no introduction. From a humble cantata performed at Colet Court school in 1968, this most family-friendly of musicals has constantly been touring in one form or another for producer/director Bill Kenwright for 36 years.
This time around TV talent show star Joe McElderry, winner of the sixth series of X Factor (as well as emerging triumphant in Pop Star to Opera Star and The Jump) dons the loincloth and the coat of many colours. Following in the leather sandals of the much-loved Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield and Any Dream Will Do winner Lee Mead (who, with his head of cascading black curls, McElderry bears a more than passing resemblance to), the pint-sized powerhouse delivers vocals that knock all those who’ve come before him into the proverbial cocked hat and turns in an accomplished acting performance to boot.
Indeed, this production is glorious from start to end. The choreography has been refreshed to give it an infectious energy, as have the musical arrangements (which in parts echo what’s was to come with shades of Jesus Christ Superstar popping up here and there), Tim Rice’s cynically witty lyrics, often squashed by poor performers, hit the mark every time in the hands of this excellent cast, and the sheer quality throughout gives this creaky middle-aged show a new spring in its step.
The staging, as always, is relatively simple but the technicolour tableaux are a treat and there’s still a nod to its school show origins in the dodgy balsa wood camels and the silly touches throughout.
It’s easy to be cynical about a production that’s been around as long as this, but the energy and verve of this hugely talented cast and McElderry’s blockbusting vocals and easy charm will make you fall in love with Joseph all over again. An irresistible delight.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat runs at Glasgow King’s Theatre until Saturday 14 May then touring the UK.
Tickets are available at: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dreamcoat-2016/kings-theatre/ but hurry, if tonight’s packed auditorium is anything to go by you’d better be quick.
Image: Mark Yeoman