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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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From it's humble roots as a fifteen minute Primary School performance, Joseph has grown into a two hour musical extravaganza and a firm favourite on the theatre circuit. Lead Craig Chalmers won his role in this particular tour through a very public audition on the BBC's 2007 show Any Dream Will Do. Although placing fifth in the televised competition, his three year stint as Joseph on tour proves his continued success.

In a story taken from the bible's book of Genesis, Joseph is the second-youngest son of Jacob, and his father's favourite; a preference confirmed when Joseph is presented with a 'coat of many colours'. Jealous of this special treatment and irritated by Joseph's dreams of grandeur, his eleven brothers fake his death and sell him into slavery. Earning a name for himself as an interpretor of dreams, Joseph is eventually employed by the Pharoah and finds the fate of his own brothers resting in his hands...

The show opens with a lengthy overture that finds the audience muttering halfway through. When the curtain eventually goes up, things kick off in earnest with "Any Dream Will Do" performed by the whole ensemble, including an impressively professional children's choir. The stage set up doesn't change much throughout the show but is designed (Sean Cavanagh) to be versitile; two sets of sweeping stairs both provide intimidating levels (look out for the huge, roaring Egyptian mask!) and as intimate a centre stage as is possible in a venue of this size.

Chalmers isn't the most charasmatic of leads but puts in a convincing performance as the hapless Joseph. "Close Every Door" towards the end of the First Act provides his first real opportunity to shine. He also seems refreshingly humble during the curtain call; genuinely appreciative for the chance to play the role.

Rochelle Neil deserves a mention for her brief but memorable appearance as Mrs Potiphar and the gravity defying kicks that go with it. Narrator Trina Hill's strong voice set her apart from the rest while Lachlan Sheuber rocks his Elvis-esque number in Act Two.

The beauty of this show is that each musical number is performed in a different style; from the bluesy "Writing on the Wall" to the gospel choir inspired "Go Go Go Joseph", this is a musical education as well as a biblical one. The moody "Those Canaan Days" is particularly well executed with elegent choreography (Henry Metcalfe) and a distinct style. The religious connotations of this story may not appeal to everyone but the theme of sibling rivalry and redemption certainly will.

For catchy numbers and a fabulous finale, Joseph remains absolutely second to none.

- Poppy Helm


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