Review: Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Joe McElderry in Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
Joe McElderry in Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

For a show that started out as a school production, Joseph has demonstrated remarkable longevity.

The Lloyd Webber-Rice production is still breezing along several decades later, and with an uncanny knack of attracting a host of big names to don the famous coat of many colours.

Joe McElderry, former XFactor winner, follows in the footsteps of Jason Donovan, Donny Osmond, Philip Schofield and Lee Mead for this 2017 tour.

He’s an engaging fella with a good voice, very much one born out of the Britain’s Got Talent/XFactor era, and, together with the narrator, Trina Hill, leads the show pretty much from start to finish.

The story, should you care to dig below the surface, is easily one from the Jeremy Kyle book of chaotic lives – favoured son sold into slavery by jealous brothers, fakes his own death, takes revenge, and then is reunited with the troops – but no-one goes to Joseph for searing social commentary.

This is a feel-good show, told simply, and packed with colour.

Sure it’s cheesy and there’s a hint of panto about some of the sets – the pop-up sheep won’t be shortlisted for ‘Prop Of The Year’ in any theatre awards, for sure! – but it’s much loved, and, so, on to a winner from the start.

The musical score packs in every genre imaginable, and zips from calypso to overwrought XFactor ballad to cod Elvis, a hint of gospel, and all covered in catchy hooks and choruses.

The songs everyone knows are shared around the cast with a suitably Gallic, Those Caanan Days, adding some light humour to stand out, and Any Dream Will Do tapping into the warmth of a sing-a-along, although, for me, this production didn’t make the most to really punch out Go Go Go Joseph with gusto, or light a fire under the Pharoah’s Elvis number.

Close Every Door – the big dramatic number of the first half – was also given the full XFactor treatment and wrung for all it was worth. Sometimes, less is more ...

The show ends with a huge sing-a-along as the cast reprise all the key songs, and it’s there that they really cut loose, running into the audience and getting everyone up on their feet, something they perhaps needed to do early on too.

But, it’ remains a fun night out, for sure. You’ll leave the theatre singing the theme tune, and you’ll probably end up out of your seat too.

And, all those years on, Joseph’s multi-coloured coat is still wearing well ...