Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the Musical Review | Opera House | Manchester
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's glitzy Bible revival tweaks the tale of Joseph from the Book of Genesis into a flamboyant whirlwind of a musical.
As the sweet-toned and merciful Joseph spreads his positivity through the Opera House, we shadow the dreamer as he bears testament to the power of endurance and forgiveness. However, this cartoonish, technicolour marvel isn’t all rainbows and daydreams as we follow Joseph’s journey from his father’s favourite rich kid, to his abrupt fall into slavery.
This well-trodden, Tony and Olivier award-winning production was first presented in 1967, but the family-friendly musicals turbulent tale is instantly updated by its large, enthusiastic and established cast. The show is narrated by Alexandra Burke, who flows through the scenes devotedly telling Joseph’s story as if she is a part of an interactive storybook, equipped with everything from fake beard to slide whistle sound effects. As Burke begins to tell the tale around a campfire to a group of multitalented kids, the Opera House audience quickly get sucked into the playful storytelling.
There’s a clear favourite in the mix when Burke introduces Jacob and his 12 sons, emphasising with the song Jacob and Son’s that due to Joseph’s (Jac Yarrow) enriching skill to interpret dreams, his father had solidified his love by giving Joseph a technicolour coat. Obviously, his brothers do what brothers do best and swiftly leave Joseph for dead after failing to throw him down a well.
Alongside talented newcomer Yarrow and Burke’s expressive commentary, the sinister story is broken down into a colourful collage of sequences that are as dreamlike as Joseph's dreams. Moving its dazzling cast of characters through tap, line dancing and contemporary dance passages via Morgan Large's multilayered set designs, the surreal production ensures that the story of Joseph is stunningly crafted under Laurence Connor’s extravagant direction. Webber and Rice's wacky take on the Joseph fable is the first of the pair's live collaboration and the show sets the bar for their memorable musical partnership. Joseph brings a host of songs including Joseph’s Dreams and Any Dream Will Do, that uplift the production with their memorable tunes and ease the pace of the show. This production also resurrects its former Joseph, Jason Donovan, who has reincarnated in the role of the Pharaoh and gleefully performs the song, Song of the King while giving his best Elvis impersonation.
While Joseph’s predicament goes from bad to very bad, the accessible storyline runs through several unexpected turns, redefining the story of Joseph with hymn-like lyrics, gorgeous sets and a variety of musical genres. Moving through futuristic formats and French-accented performances in Those Canaan Days, Joseph’s joyful production fuses multiple musical heavy hitters to move its plot along swiftly. The show's cast are also phenomenal, keeping the energy high as the pregnant Burke dances through scenes alongside her tween cast members and can-can dancing crew. It is clearly a physically demanding show that leaves few moments for its performers to pause or rest.
Even after celebrating over 50 years on stage, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat can prophesies a rich future as it continues to platform its hypnotically memorable signature songs whilst redefining the story of Joseph into an undeniably fun and rewatchable musical.
Tickets are available via the ATG link