REVIEW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Theatre Royal, Brighton, until Saturday, September 28)

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Way, way back many centuries ago (well, a little over 30 years, actually) Bill Kenwright launched the sparkling and evergreen Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd-Webber hit Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat onto the road – and it’s been going strong ever since pretty much without a break.

Let’s be honest, there can’t be much wrong with a show that draws its strong story from the Bible, has a contemporary moral and accessible universal themes, contains a colourful mixture of catchy musical styles, and can attract an appreciative audience of all ages.

It’s been touring very nicely for awhile with participants from the TV talent search show Any Dream Will Do playing the lead, but now an energetic cast is joined by the fantastic Ian ‘H’ Watkins and it is taken to dizzy new heights of excellence.

H has played the role of Joseph in the West End already and it is no wonder that any director should want to drag him from Steps and encourage him to don the dreamcoat again. He is, quite simply, the best Joseph there’s been – performing all his songs (such as Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do) to perfection, acting the role with depth and confidence, injecting the right balance of cheekiness and gravity, and clearly enjoying every single minute.

It’s a hard act to match, but the lively and good looking company manages it and ensures the Dreamcoat is as fresh and vital as it has always been, giving a real sense of a friendly group of performers who are enjoying sharing the stage together, along with the local young Joseph choir.

Those familiar with the show will know there are several ‘star spots’ (not least Jennifer Potts as narrator and Luke Jasztal’s rock and roll Pharaoh) and producer/director Kenwright, choreographer Henry Metcalfe – who also appears as Jacob and has his moment in the limelight singing Those Canaan Days a Francais, and musical director Jeremy Wootton ensure the material never once looks ragged.

The show does seem to be gathering more padding as the years pass, but it’s a very minor gripe in a production that makes this early 70s musical seem timeless, enduring, and always entertaining.

I first saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Theatre Royal back in 1974 and enjoyed this production enormously all these years later as it has such a lasting quality, especially when performed so well. If you are seeing it for your 1st or 100th time it is unlikely to disappoint.

David Guest