Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s beloved family musical returns to the West End in a new production. But does it keep the magic of the show alive?
As a child, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is probably the first musical that you experience either at school or see on stage. It is a real testament to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that this is a musical that is beloved by so many with its playful and witty lyrics, combined with a great variety of style of music that brings the story so vividly to life.
Now back in the West End for a limited season only, this new production directed by Laurence Connor has retained much of the fun and humour – but adds new interpretations that don’t work in the production as a whole.
While I applaud the additional use of children in the show so designed for them and performing alongside the adult cast, there are the occasional moments that it doesn’t quite pay off. This is particularly evident when one child is playing Potiphar opposite Sheridan Smith’s Mrs Potiphar that just feels slightly awkward and stilted particularly when it comes to the dialogue.
Laurence Connor’s production is very focused on the comical elements of the show, even adding additional flourishes that work really well – particularly during ‘One More Angel in Heaven’ and ‘Those Canaan Days’. Connor also certainly puts Sheridan Smith’s comedy skills constantly to good use – such as when she transforms from character to character. Throughout it all there is a great energy and pace to it that allows the audience to be drawn into the story.
While the show is thoroughly entertaining, it feels as though the production is lacking in something special to really capture the imagination visually. Morgan Large’s set evokes the setting of the story well, it feels slightly too sparse and lacking in impressiveness that you would expect given the size of the London Palladium stage despite allowing Joann M. Hunter’s choreography to really shine.
This particular production of Joseph is at its strongest when it highlights the more poignant moments of the story such as during ‘Close Every Door’ and ‘Any Dream Will Do’ – both powerfully and confidently performed by Jac Yarrow, making his West End debut. The simplicity in the way in which both songs are performed works well with the concept of the show.
Leading the cast as Joseph, Jac Yarrow offers a confident performance with some wonderful vocals – particularly during ‘Close Every Door’ that sends a chill down the spine. He has a natural charisma that works well for the role and is immensely likeable from start to finish. It is a shame that there are moments in which he seems to be slightly overshadowed by Sheridan Smith as the narrator. While there is no denying that Smith has a wonderful sense of comedy she cans sometimes come across as trying too hard and is at her best when she relaxes and softens – particularly vocally. Jason Donovan as the Pharaoh offers some nice touches and mannerisms to the character to make the part his own, while all of the children offer some lovely harmonies – particularly during ‘Any Dream Will Do’.
This production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a crowd pleaser, but there are moments which feels as though it is lacking the finesse that you would expect from a West End production.
By Emma Clarendon
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will play at the London Palladium until the 8th September. To book tickets click here or visit: West End Theatre Breaks, Encore Tickets, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, From the Box Office, See Tickets or Last Minute.com.