Incredibly, it’s been nearly six years since the television show Any Dream Will Do named Lee Mead as the nation’s choice to play Joseph. His runner-up from that talent search, Keith Jack, is now in the hot seat himself, enjoying his second spell touring in the title role.
Fans of the fresh-faced Scottish youngster will be delighted at the renewed chance to catch him in the multi-coloured coat, not least because his voice is as velvety and winsome as ever, despite occasionally holding back presumably in an attempt to preserve it for eight shows a week.
But in an odd kind of way, Keith is not the biggest draw in this Bill Kenwright spectacle that seemingly never runs out of road. Yes, he’s lovely to look at, he sounds delightful and he’s popular with ladies of a certain age. But in this energetic, relentless production, he’s got a hell of a lot of competition on stage.
First up, there’s Lauren Ingram, 18 months out of drama school and giving a magnificently assured performance as the Narrator. Her voice is impeccable, her stagecraft beautifully controlled and her twinkling personality highly infectious. Remember the name: she’s going to go a long way.
She is matched note for note, too, by the powerful ensemble of Joseph’s eleven brothers, plus three girls who do far more than make up the numbers. The fraternal troupe, without exception, give it their all and the full-throated sound of them in mid-chorus – dancing frenetically all the while – is impressive, to say the least. Lloyd Webber’s playful score and Tim Rice’s sparkling lyrics can rarely have sounded so good.
It may be heading for its fiftieth birthday, but Joseph somehow remains as fresh and lively as ever, and the clear commitment and sheer fun on display from the sizeable cast and seven-strong band under James McCullagh makes this – still – a night to remember.