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Phil Hopkins
Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
@philhopkinsuk
7:00 AM 14th July 2022
arts

Has The Joseph Dream Soured Slightly?

Jac Yarrow (Joseph) and the company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Jac Yarrow (Joseph) and the company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Photo: Tristram Kenton
It is inevitable that any musical doing the rounds for more than half a century will, periodically, undergo a major re vamp but, when a specific show has become an iconic family favourite, the shift will not always be appreciated.

It’s just happened with Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, billed as the greatest production since sliced bread by those eager to boost the box office take, but a very different looking show to what has gone before.

This time pastel colours abound but stage sets have been stripped to a minimum. Gone is Pharaoh as ‘Elvis’ in the traditional white jump suit – one of my favourites I have to admit – and in are cheer leaders for the Go, Go, Go Joseph number with a beefed up musical score and heavier beat rhythms.
Linzi Hateley and ensemble. Photo:Tristram Kenton
Linzi Hateley and ensemble. Photo:Tristram Kenton

However, in other ways, the wheel has come full circle. This Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice musical began its life in a school in 1968: now kids are back front stage taking a number of the adult parts, including a few of Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar.

Former ‘Joseph’ Jason Donovan, returns with a promotion to Pharoah, leader of the Egyptian world and rock God with a penchant for all things Las Vegas, while Linzi Hately, 1991’s original Olivier Award-nominated Narrator is the returning anchor at his side.
Jason Donovan. Photo:Tristram Kenton
Jason Donovan. Photo:Tristram Kenton
So, a changed line up and feel without doubt. And of the production itself?

Donovan and Hately were excellent but I had my doubts about the plethora of youngsters in ‘adult’ parts. Yes, it returns the show to its 60’s roots but, after 54 years some might argue that it is has now moved way beyond its prep school origins and can’t go back.

It is a zany show by nature so, in some respects, anything goes and Joseph is one of those productions that can stand the change, however bizarre: the main man’s tap dancing brothers for instance or even bearded eight year olds.
It has also become the standard ‘try out’ show for young performers making their way.

This time it was Jac Yarrow’s turn as Joseph, a graduate of the Arts Educational School but a poor student in the ballet class with his spot turns….or lack of them!

Most on stage were dancers; he wasn’t, even though he had a pleasing persona and a lovely voice. I preferred the warmth of Joe McElderry in the role.

This was a show about change. It was colourful and the cast were dynamic but, initially, it felt as though it lacked je ne sais quoi.

However, I got into the swing after Act I, enjoyed the evening overall and my ‘virgin’ guest loved it. So, Joseph rolls on, still playing to packed houses, even if this critic was a little lack lustre about this ‘greatest production since sliced bread’!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Leeds Grand Theatre
Until Saturday 23rd July