Theatre review - Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Palace Theatre Manchester
PUBLISHED: 12:50 19 October 2017
Joseph, starring Joseph McElderry, is a fun-packed show that will have you on your feet, says Kate Houghton.
I took my 11 year old son to see Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Palace Theatre in Manchester this week, and on the way there he asked ‘What is a technical dream code?’ At that point I wondered if I might have trouble ahead: in this age of digital entertainment, multiplayer online gaming and pop hits that fill the airwaves only to disappear within a week, how would he take to a show that was written and first performed four decades ago?
Pretty well, as it turned out. The vibrancy of the music, the sheer joy of the performance and the timeless touches of humour all come together to create a show that thrills every member of the audience, regardless of age or ability to follow a storyline. (He did follow it, slightly to my surprise, as there aren’t so many child-friendly musicals where every word is sung and not a line of prose is uttered!)
Joseph McElderry is an inspired piece of casting. He has both the voice and the stage presence to carry his role to perfection. I saw a touring version a few years ago when Joseph gave me the giggles, and not for a good reason, from his perspective. McElderry’s ability to hold his audience silent while he delivers a perfect performance of the haunting Close Every Door morphs seamlessly into his joyous, clap and singalong rendition of Any Dream Will Do, where he lifts the atmosphere to even higher levels of happiness.
Also worthy of comment is the marvellous Ben James-Ellis, who gives us an Elvis-impersonator Pharaoh he could take on tour. It’s this delightful mish-mash of musical styles that makes the show so timelessly entertaining I think. From the cowboys’ lament, ‘One More Angel In Heaven’, that announces the ‘death’ of Joseph to a bewildered Jacob to the parodied French ballad ‘Those Canaan Days’, from the marvellous 1920’s ragtime ‘Potiphar’ to the bouncing calypso ‘Benjamin’ we are taken on a tour of musical genres that thrill the audience and make us laugh. Not as much as the pop-up sheep perhaps…which you will have to witness for yourself as that’s a moment beyond description.
This is a musical that is fun on every level. My boy’s favourite part – Elvis, of course.