Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, London Palladium
5.0Overall Score
Listen to the audio review of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat here

When you think about it, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is kind of an insane musical. It takes a Bible story and retells it while incorporating every style of song and dance imaginable, from jazz to French ballad and tap to Las Vegas Elvis impersonator rock’n’roll. And yet, somehow, the result isn’t a chaotic mess, but a spectacular display of talent ─ from the leads, ensemble, orchestra, director, choreographer and everyone else involved.

The role of the narrator, who barely leaves the stage for the whole show, must be unimaginably exhausting. Nevertheless, Alexandra Burke shines in it, bringing warmth, wit, glorious vocals and unexpected dance skills – proving that she’s come a long way from the days of ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Bad Boys’. Recent ArtsEd grad Jac Yarrow gives an immaculate performance in the titular role, showing off his vocal talents in a powerful rendition of ‘Close Every Door’ and leading whole company numbers with a winning smile. As the Pharaoh, Jason Donovan brings the star power you’d expect, although it’s near impossible to understand a single word of his lyrics ─ despite the fact that his song reprises about four times.

The real stars of the cast, however, are the children. This production of Joseph takes the phrase ‘Never work with children or animals’ and does its utmost to prove the first half wrong. The talented child cast appear in almost every number, even taking on roles such as Potiphar and Benjamin. Director Laurence Connor has clearly thought through the best way to really integrate them into the production, and the result is a show where their every appearance injects comedy and wit.

The power of the full adult ensemble and the child cast combined is what really makes this production stand out. The whole company dance numbers are nothing short of spectacular, and the several moments where the orchestra cut out and the full cast are left belting in harmony are enough to bowl you over. There’s also a real sense of love and trust between the cast ─ the principals’ interactions with the children are heart-warming, the ad-libs add a lot to the comedy and everyone really looks like they’re having the time of their life.

A huge part of the spectacular nature of the show is owed to the set design: Designer Morgan Large creates a dream-like world of vibrant colours, glowing star and dazzling lights. Highlights include a moment when Burke appears to move a huge orange sun ─ a fun way to put a twist on the idea of her controlling the narrative ─ and huge golden statues with guitars that appear in Donovan’s Elvis-style number.

It’s not yet clear what the post-pandemic West End will look like, but this production of Joseph could be a good indication. It seems audiences are after something familiar ─ other productions this summer include revivals like Hairspray and film adaptations like Back to the Future, Heathers and Frozen. Perhaps this production hints at some innovation to come. Here, elements of the show are reimagined and redesigned, presenting a musical both old and new. I can’t wait to see more productions bring the same sense of excitement, creativity and joy to the stage.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is playing at the London Palladium until 5 September 2021. For more information and tickets, see the Joseph the Musical’s website.