If there was going to be any play or musical that appeared twice on this blog, it had to be Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. As clearly explained in my first entry, this is probably my favourite musical (certainly in my top three) and so when I was offered a free ticket to the press night of the relaunch with Gareth Gates in the title role, there was no chance of me resisting!
Gareth Gates has been slotted into the gap left by Lee Mead with seemingly no major changes that I could ascertain. The only real difference that I could see was due to Gates’ relative youth, and also his youthful appearance. He plays the early scenes with Jacob and the brothers as more of an obnoxious brat, which kind of makes sense in terms of driving them to “fratricide” and so in this way his youth worked for him. The other time it was noticeably different was in the reunion scene when Joseph plants the golden cup. As Gareth Gates sings “Benjamin, you nasty youth…”, it was hard to suppress a smile as the actor playing Benjamin looks a good few years older than him.
None of the other roles have been recast and whilst they all looked perfect around Lee Mead’s Joseph, I felt they should reconfigure a little to suit Gates’ looks, even if only to put a younger cast member in for Benjamin. These points aside, I have to say I was quite impressed with his overall performance. He delivered on the big numbers, looks halfway decent in his loincloth(!) and interacted well with his castmates.
I was quite pleased to see that the role of the Narrator was being covered by the understudy, Fiona Reyes, my views of Jenna Lee James were made clear in the previous review, so it was interesting to see a different take. Reyes has a much softer voice, which complemented Gates’ equally softer performance in the lead and so whilst they blended quite well together, I wonder how he is holding up against the considerably more gutsy vocals of Ms James. Funnily enough, in the costume change at the interval, Reyes changed into trousers and a sparkly top which appeared to be the same length as the micro-mini-dress that Ms James is fond of.
So all in all, this is a decent reboot and Gareth Gates acquits himself well in his first West End role, but I have to say I wonder if his name alone will be able to sustain this production of Joseph in the West End in the long run.