Joseph is truly the marmite of musicals; you either love it or hate it; and this latest version of the touring musical will do little to sway audience members from either camp. For those who enjoy their musicals extra cheesy this will be right up their street, but for those looking for any degree of grit or seriousness this is not where you will find it. It is a show that really doesn’t take itself too seriously, with musical numbers ranging inexplicably from country/western, to calypso, to Elvis, to Parisian; all while telling a Bible story. Who knows what Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber were thinking when they wrote this slightly bonkers show, but the crazy concoction is its own magic formula that consistently packs out audiences across the globe.
Vocally, the powerhouses of Mark McMullan as Joseph and Alexandra Doar as the Narrator propel this show to a truly worthwhile watch, and both performances are possibly among the strongest that Joseph has presented in a long while. Henry Lawes gives a thoroughly convincing Elvis impersonation with his Pharaoh. The Joseph Choir is provided by local company The Theatre Workshop and the children do a commendable job throughout; delivering some tricky harmonies and characteristic high notes with consistent power and enthusiasm. Henry Metcalfe is an endearing Jacob, but comes across too doddery for Potiphar who could be more powerful and intimidating, and his vocals sadly don’t match the quality of the rest of the cast.
The original choreography is taken to the next level by Gary Lloyd, and is performed with incredible energy by the adult ensemble. The three handmaidens; Charlotte-Kate Warren, Amber Kennedy, and Gemma Pipe; are dazzling in their numbers, as are many of the brothers. One thing that can’t be denied about Joseph is that the cast always look like they are having a huge amount of fun on stage, and the bouncy choreography that flits from one style to another must play a big part in that.
Stage effects such as inflating sheep will have laughter ringing through the theatre, and the complicated colourful lighting plot is impressive. The actual technicolour dreamcoat has multiple iterations on stage that will please fans, each one more extravagant than the last.
Joseph is a show that has delighted millions of audience members of all ages since it first opened 50 years ago, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. It is a brilliantly enjoyable evening of theatre, perfect for brightening up the end of a rainy February.
Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the end of February.