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A jubilant reopening for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical.


BWW Review: JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, London Palladium Leave it to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's most colourful musical to date to pull London out of the lockdown blues! After closing down with the rest of the West End last year, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat comes back to the Palladium starring Theatreland's sweetheart Jac Yarrow as the title character, Alexandra Burke as the exhilarating Narrator, and Jason Donovan - who's graduated to Pharaoh after playing Joseph in the early 90s.

And a jubilant reopening it is. The production - directed by Joseph Connor and choreographed by Joann M. Hunter - feels like a gigantic gulp of fresh water after months in the desert. It's easy to see why Joseph is one of the most beloved and revived musicals across the world. Catchy tunes, big dance numbers, an epic set design (by Morgan Large), are only the tip of the iceberg.

Written in the late 1960s and premiered soon after, it follows the biblical story of Joseph. After being spared from fratricide but sold as a slave by his own brothers because he was their father's favourite son, he sets off on a marvellous adventure. From a prison cell to being the Pharaoh's right hand, Joseph's is a magical, uplifting, and toe-tapping tale.

Burke's riffs are otherworldly, while Yarrow is in top form. They power through ballad after ballad, to the point where they keep outperforming one another aided by rest of the cast. They take their audience through a euphoric whirlwind, and the energy they create in the room is astonishing. But the real star of the show isn't Burke, or Yarrow, or even the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh Donovan, riotous in the role. It's the children who play the chorus.

One tiny child especially instantly steals the scene: Ethan Sokontwe might not be much taller than the sacks of food Joseph gives his brothers in Egypt, but his personality fills the Palladium.

The coat is a thing of beauty. The way it swirls and moves with Yarrow as he pirouettes across the stages lifts it to being a character in its own rights. As far as costumes go, Large plays with splashes of colour and flowy materials that compliment Hunter's choreography.

A big, bright red sun accompanies the characters through their journey. While Large's set seems relatively simple at a first glance, when the sandy looks of Canaan suddenly make way to the golden opulence of Egypt, he assures another wow factor in case the voices and previous numbers hadn't already won over the audience.

The musical has been slightly updated for modern audiences from its humble beginnings: the Narrator has an iPhone at one point and the children are mostly dressed in contemporary clothing. The politics, however, seem to remain mainly the same and there might be some leeway to briefly bring up that Donovan's Pharaoh still is a white man with a bit of a fake tan even if times have indeed changed in 40 years.

But all in all, Joseph is an old familiar face and the company wholly deserved the full-capacity standing ovation it got on press night. It's big, it's dancey, it's joyous - and we definitely need this kind of story right now.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs at the London Palladium until 5 September.

Photo credit: Tristram Kenton

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