Nearly 40 years after its first professional performance and with Any Dream Will Do runner-up Keith Jack now wearing the infamous loincloth, Joseph still does exactly what it has always done; it gives its audience, old and new, a show full of catchy songs with a solid but simple storyline. For the first time theatregoer it provides a fantastic introduction to the world of theatre and, for the seasoned audience member, seeing it again just feels like meeting a beloved old friend.
Despite reaching the ripe old age of 24, Jack has a brilliant combination of the boyish charm he needs in act one together with the more masterly persona required later in the performance. He is perfectly comfortable with both the comedic and emotional sides of his character. In addition, his voice is clear and powerful and, throughout the show, it is very obvious that he loves playing the role. He is also supported by a tremendous company, many of whom have also been touring with the show for years.
Due to the indisposition of the usual narrator, Jennifer Potts, her understudy Collette Coleman opened the show with a tender and heartfelt prologue which started the journey back to biblical days. The Joseph set is the usual dual-staircase one which, on the confines of the Pavilion stage, seemed to loom larger than ever. On it sit the Joseph choir, from the Nicola Miles Theatre Studios, who then provide the backing vocals for the brilliant “Any dream will do”.
The enthusiasm with which the brothers introduce themselves is carried on all the way through to the finale. Despite the breakneck pace of the show, the amazingly quick costume changes that are required and the hugely energetic Joseph megamix ending, they never seem to tire.
Another wonderful thing about this show is the way that so many musical styles are used and it’s great to see that the lead vocals are shared by so many of the cast. Particular mention should go to Nathan Vaughan-Harris who sings a superb “Benjamin calypso” and, together with Camilla Rowland, rocks the house with the gospel version of “Go, go, go Joseph”
Pharaoh Adam Jarrell, seems to look, and sound, more like Elvis Presley than ever. Dressed in his white jumpsuit and surrounded by his adoring fans he gets the whole audience clapping along while he recounts the tales of his bizarre dreams, with enough time and energy to go through it all – “Just one more time”. He also powers his way through the newest song in the piece, “King of my heart”.
This is not a show that will change the world; well, not completely. What it does do is take people who have had a hard day and make them smile. It gets evens tired feet tapping along to the music and it ensures that, whatever troubles are outside the theatre doors, that’s where they stay for the duration. This show is feel-good with a capital F and, I am certain, it will still be running forty years from now – by which time Keith Jack will be perfect for the role of Jacob.