Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at The New Brighton Floral

Posted on 26 May 2016
By Miranda Humphrey-Green
  • Share:

Way, way back, many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber penned what is surely their greatest musical collaboration – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, playing at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion until 28th May and starring Joe McElderry.

The story is that of Joseph, youngest-but-one son of Jacob. Jacob favours Joseph, much to the annoyance of Joseph’s 11 brothers, and buys his son an expensive and fabulous coat of many colours. Joseph doesn’t help himself in the family popularity stakes by boasting to his brothers about the dreams he has where they all bow down before him. Fed up with him, the brothers hatch a dastardly plot to kill him. A last minute change of plan sees them sell Joseph to “a hairy bunch of Ishmaelites” who, in turn, sell him into slavery in Egypt. Will Joseph’s gift of dream-reading help him? Will, indeed, his premonitions of greatness come true?

Now, if you didn’t learn to lisp along to the strains of Any Dream Will Do as child, you can probably retrospectively sue your parents for neglect. I was exposed at an early age and can consequently still belt out all the numbers, practically word perfect.

Which is not to imply that the show is in any way dated. With an age-old narrative encompassing sibling rivalry and a journey from rags to riches, Lloyd Webber cleverly composed an age-defying score which spans genres from Calypso to Country and Noel Coward to Elvis Presley, rendering the work as accessible today as it was forty odd years ago.

With a timeless classic such as this, you’d have to be trying very hard to mess it up. There’s no dialogue to forget, just a pacey string of outrageously catchy numbers which relate the story. The tunes are there, the tight lyrics, the humour, the pathos… What could go wrong? I’m pleased to say, that baa-ing the odd sluggish inflation of the hilarious pop-up sheep, which only added to the comedy, not much went wrong at all for director Bill Kenwright’s production.

Joe McElderry, who has made a career out of winning TV competitions, it seems – not just The X Factor in 2009 but also Popstar to Operastar in 2011 and The Jump in 2014 – has a lovely ease about him on stage and an indisputably fine voice. Personally I’d like to see him combine talents next and do The Marriage of Figraro on skis.

Lucy Kay as the Narrator, runner up in last year’s Britain’s Got Talent and a feted soprano, was perhaps unsurprisingly a touch operatic in the high registers but it’s no mean feat to pull off such a big role with so much stage time and such intricate lyrics and she managed it with aplomb. It’s good to see a female in this role to balance the very male-heavy bias of this Old Testament tale.

The brothers, too numerous to mention by name (sorry, guys!) sang beautifully, both together and separately, whilst local children from Chester’s Stagecoach ably provided the chorus, and gave us a medley of songs from the show after the interval. Emilianos Stamatakis’ Elvis-styled Pharaoh could have been hammier for my liking but the costume designer deserves a medal for their ingenious blend of desert dress meets, variously, Country and Western casual, Paris a la Recession and American Baseball chic.

Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
New Brighton Floral Pavilion
May 23 – May 28, 2016
PR Rating: ***** Any Dream Will Do