It’s not Shakespeare and it won’t win any awards for originality, but taken for what it is, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a charming delight. Given a fresh lick of paint by director Laurence Connor (School of Rock), this version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic is sweet, knockabout and endearingly silly.
Connor’s 2019 vintage may have proved a bit marmite like with the critics, however, but the show proved a huge hit with theatre goers, and it is this success that has paved the way for the production’s return to the London Palladium in 2021.
The 2019 production had quite a few aces up its sleeve, off course. With the benefit of not one but two star turns – Sheridan Smith’s surprise inclusion in the role of the Narrator and Jason Donovan’s turn as the Pharaoh. Donovan was returning to the show, off course, after first appearing in the leading role of Jason in the 1991 production of the show (also at the London Palladium).
While Donovan’s performance as the Pharaoh drew mixed reviews, Smith has emerged as one of the show’s great successes, winning almost unanimous acclaim for her role as the production’s storyteller.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat began life as a humble school play. Commissioned by family friend, Alan Doggett, to produce a piece for the school in which he taught, Andrew Lloyd Webber, along with his writing partner Time Rice, then struggling musicians, came up with Joseph. The musical offered a jaunty retelling of the biblical story of Joseph interspersed with contemporary pop style songs.
After a debut performance at the school, Colet Court, the then 15 minute production was spotted by Derek Jewell, a music critic at the Sunday Times. Jewell was impressed, subsequently reviewing the performance for the paper. The review praised the show for its innovation and exuberance and called the production “a new pop oratorio”. Little did Lloyd Webber or Rice know at the time, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was well on its way to being a smash hit.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will open at the London Palladium on the 1st of July 2021 for a limited 12 week run.
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