Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Bristol Hippodrome 2017
Our Verdict: A fine show marred by a tedious overture and poor sound quality
Our Rating: 7/10
It’s a classic musical theatre show, so much so, it’s almost a parody of itself. It was clearly beloved by the 2000 people watching last night who even stood up to applaud musical numbers throughout the performance. Its popularity is due to the upbeat songs, successful blend of musical styles, comedy, characters and simple story line. Oh and some floppy inflatable sheep.
This production had some outstanding moments, moving moments and some turgid moments, but as an overall package, it worked.
The tediously long overture killed the atmosphere dead in the auditorium straight away. Several minutes of hearing every song in the show with no action just doesn’t cut it in 2017. By the time the show actually started, my initial enthusiasm had waned and the production didn’t immediately pull it back despite the best efforts of the cast. Just cut it out completely, or do something interesting with it.
Sadly, some God awful sound quality from Narrator Lucy Kay’s mic and subsequently Joe McElderry as Joseph, did nothing to compliment their performances. All nuances were lost, emotion not conveyed and at times, it was painful on the ear.
And that’s such a shame, because Lucy Kay has a fab vocal range, especially when she’s cross and gives the story a stern What For in places.
Joe McElderry’s mic also made him seem a pretty average Joseph vocally. That was until Jacob in Egypt and into Any Dream Will Do at the end of Act Two. It was an outstanding and tender performance from both as father and son were finally reunited.
Trying to explain the story of Joseph, his brothers and his coat to my accompanying six year old was bizarre. It’s very much an Old Testament Jeremy Kyle story. Ultimately poor parenting practice has created a divide between the half siblings and my daughter was in outrage at the various injustices that took place in the first half. It’s a clear warning to the families watching the show about the dangers of favouritism amongst your children. Forget positivity and dreaming big, just don’t buy your middle child a special coat and expect the others not to notice.
The Brothers were brilliant. Their songs were amongst the best pieces of the night. One More Angel in Heaven was another outstanding moment, though some poor direction on Those Canaan Days meant we didn’t get the best from the song.
Second half low point was Pharoh’s King of My Heart. That’s not due to Ben James-Ellis’ perfect performance. It’s just a terrible song which doesn’t sit comfortably in the score. It’s rather like the songs used in pantomime to cover set changes. It dragged the flow and momentum down again without adding anything. Cut it.
Best performances of the night firstly came from Richard J Hunt as Baker and Judah. He has some great comic timing throughout the show and strong stage presence. Not forgetting all the ‘British’ Egyptian servants in Potiphar, again played by the Brothers to great comic effect. And finally, who-I-wanted-to-see-more-of was the uncredited Amana Jones for the brief but brilliant vocals in end of Act One Go Go Go Joseph – what a wonderful singer. She’s the understudy Narrator and I’ll put money on her being a damn good one when she gets the opportunity.
Sean Cavanagh’s pyramid set perfectly framed the action and Nick Richings’ lighting created delicious effects and colours.
Production wise, there are some hiccups which will annoy theatre pedants. It is however, the perfect family show and the worst thing of all, you will have Go Go Go Joseph stuck in your head for the next month.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 06 May 2017