Iconic is a word vastly overused these days but its true meaning is found in this, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s earliest musical. Although Joseph is some 45 years old the reason it continues to be such a success is the combination of Lloyd Webber’s incredible musical prowess and the equally impressive story telling lyrics from Tim Rice.
This feel good musical is bursting with familiar songs (“Any Dream Will Do”, “Close Every Door”, “Go, Go, Go Joseph” and “One More Angel”) and the superb musicians, deftly directed by James McCullagh ensures the audience experience a sensational eight minute overture in addition to an unexpected but exquisite reprise medley of all the famous tunes in the finale; a rapture of song and dance, resulting in a standing ovation from the audience.
The Narrator, Lauren Ingram a challenging and pivotal role in the production is spectacular; superbly articulate and equally impressive in both higher and lower registers, keeping this fast paced musical whirling along.
The story is bible inspired, humble and unassuming, but loses nothing in the re-telling, like a comfortable old nursery rhyme. Although one would expect the action to take place in Egypt, this adaptation manages to drop in on the Wild West, Paris and the Caribbean, all somehow making perfect sense. There are some really comical moments including blow up sheep, a singing camel and a high handle-barred motorcycle.
Keith Jack - runner up to Lee Mead in TVs Any Dream Will Do - is sensational in the lead part, totally believable in all aspects of this complex character, transferring from nostalgic melancholy to ebullient heights seamlessly. His voice has clarity of tone that soars over the auditorium.
Joseph’s eleven brothers are a wonderful support to him throughout. They morph and dance into a number of different characters and their pleasure and enjoyment of their high energy roles are palpable. Of particular note is Marcus Ayton who leads a gospel rendering of Go, go, go Joseph and belts out the ‘Benjamin Calypso’.
Pharaoh (Luke Jasztal) presents a magnificently powerful portrayal of the Egyptian leader, albeit in an Elvis style, which would perhaps be more associated with a tribute act. His link with the audience is almost hypnotic and only a total stoic would not be clapping and singing along.
The children’s 40 strong choir is a joy, made up from Salisbury and Downton Stagecoach. They sit on the dual split staircase throughout the whole performance and provide backing vocals to many of the musical numbers.
The set works well and truly comes to life with a multitude of inspirational lighting changes.
This is a wonderful production for all the family, old and young alike are swept along by the sheer tempo and high spirited enthusiasm from this gifted cast.