For me, there’s no doubt about what the first theatre post would be about. I have probably seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat something like 20 times, played piano for one production, percussion for another, and sung in it twice (both times in the chorus 🙁 ). It occupies such a special place in my heart, and that of most of my families’ too, that I doubt I could ever grow tired of it. That said, the most recent production of this before the latest reboot, came pretty close to ruination, Stephen Gately has a lot to answer for!
Anyhow, that’s all in the past. Lee Mead won the much documented Any Dream Will Do BBC talent search and took the lead role in July 2007, and what a job he does! This was the second time I have seen this production and it still surprised me with the energy that is brings to what is such familiar material. Lee Mead really does have the air of a superstar about him and commands the stage with such gravitas, it is hard to drag the eyes away from him, plus he can’t half hold a tune, injecting real emotion into Any Dream Will Do which is no small feat. Jenna Lee James as the Narrator does not please quite as much. She seems to auditioning for a lead in another musical and belts out her numbers with varying degrees of success and little care for her diction, she appears more interested in adlibbing than actually narrating the story.
My only other minor quibble is the introduction of the new song “King of My Heart” sung by Pharoah on his own. The song is nothing remarkable, the Elvis impression begins to wear quite thin, and seems to only really serve as a chance for the cast to change from their Egyptian costumes back into those of the brothers. Everything else about this production pleased me greatly though. The staging really suits the space, with the children’s choir framing the action on either side, the costumes look amazing (not just the coat!) and the company work really hard, giving great vocals to an often bewildering array of musical styles, nifty dance moves and engaging smiles throughout. I cannot recommend Joseph enough as a great theatrical experience, it may not deal with any weighty contemporary issues or offer challenging musical palettes, but it is pure and simple fun, whether with the family or not, and should always be treated as such.