Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, currently stopping off in the New Theatre, Cardiff, has been a staple of national and international theatres since 1974, and remains a surprisingly lighthearted show considering it’s based on one of the Bible’s darker stories. Joseph is kidnapped by his 11 brothers, sold into slavery in Egypt, seduced by the Pharoah’s wife and thrown into jail – but he may as well have been taking a stroll and eating an ice cream for all the moments of shock or grit here.
At around an hour and 30 minutes, Joseph isn’t a long show – but it’s a packed one. The choreography and sets are outstanding and whichever way you look, something is happening. Blink and you’ll miss a humorous action or expression, or perhaps a Horus head statue playing a guitar. Yes, the underlying darkness of the tale is belied by plenty of humour: can-can girls, calypso, a pharaoh who sang like Elvis and, oddly, a French café.
The New Theatre is a compact old-style theatre space, one with a good view of the stage whether you’re in the circle or the gods. That said, its acoustics are not the best, and with Joseph’s music often louder than its lyrics, the story could be difficult to follow. Still, this didn’t seem to worry the audience who clapped vigorously after each song: at a guess, most had seen the show many times before in its various iterations.
Those of the optimum age to associate Jason Donovan with Joseph could not have been disappointed with Cardiff’s own Jac Yarrow – who, with his loud clear voice, was the star of the show. A heavily pregnant Alexandra Burke gave an energetic performance as the narrator and the child actors were as professional as the adults. Joseph is a veritable feast of colour and movement – joyous, uplifting and fun, this overshadows what is, in essence, a simple story of jealousy and forgiveness.
New Theatre, Cardiff, Wed 4 May
On until Sat 7 May. Tickets: £33-£64. Info: here
words LYNDA NASH
Read our interview with Jac Yarrow below.
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