Following its critically acclaimed revival in 2019, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat finally returns to the Palladium for an encore run a year later than planned. Since Joseph last donned his coat of many colours, the world has completely changed - so would the show have the same impact in this new world?
Returning to the title role of Joseph is the wonderful Jac Yarrow. Already a revelation when he appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, two years ago. He is now even better in the role - filled with more confidence and, perhaps, urgency following 16 momths of theatres being closed. It is evident Jac is having the time of his life in the role and the fun trascends into the audience. An incredible talent, this is no more apparent than on showstopper 'Close Every Door' where Jac delivers a vocal performance that is surely up there with the best that have ever graced the iconic Palladium stage.
This production of Joseph divided opinions during its last run due to the changes made to the character of the Narrator. Some commented that it felt like "The Sheridan Smith show". Stepping in to the Narrators boots this time is Alexandra Burke. While she may lack the comic timing of Sheridan, there is no denying her stage presence. While some accent choices may verge on to the cringeworthy side, there is no denying her talent though I couldn't help but feeling she had been miscast in this role.
The most famous Joseph of all, Jason Donovan, returns to the show again - this time playing the Pharaoh. Though his stage time is extremely limited, he makes the most of it channelling his best Elvis for a number so spectacular, he has to sing it twice (three times if you count the finale). With his tongue firmly placed in his cheek, Donovan is clearly having fun on that stage - and the chance to see him in this production remains a highlight of the evening.
The rest of the cast is completed by a fantastic ensemble of both adults and children who ensure the fun continues on the stage even when one of the main characters isn't present. Ensemble numbers such as 'Those Canaan Days' and 'Benjamin Calypso' provide some of the highlights of the show with fantastic chorepgraphy ensuring the performances are a joy to behold.
The diverse musical styles on offer all have one thing in common - how easy it is to singalong to. Though I would advise waiting until the finale where practically all the songs are repeated, Joseph contains earworm after earworm. And, of course, the show features one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most timeless numbers - the stunning 'Any Dream Will Do'. There is something heartwarming and oddly emotional about witnessing Jac Yarrow and a bunch of children sing such a well-loved song on that stage,
Let's talk about the elephant in the room (A phrase Alexandra Burke brought to England) - this production is Andrew Lloyd Webber does panto. If you are looking for something to stimulate your brain, this perhaps isn't the show for you. If you want something subtle, you won't find it here. If, however, you are looking for escapism and pure fun, this is the perfect show. Props you would expect to find at a pantomime litter the stage while Burke loiters around the stage like she is a mix of a Pantomime Dame and a villain.
While there are admittedly better shows around at the moment, for what it is, this is a great show. Joseph was the first show I ever saw in a theatre when I was a kid and seeing the 2019 production was a bit of an emotional experience so this is always going to be a special show for me. Worth the ticket price for Jac Yarrows performance alone, Joseph is a fantastic remedy for the terrible time we have all experienced of late. If the aim of this show is to put a smile on the audiences faces, it is a job well done.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs at the Londom Palladium until September 5th. Tickets available from https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/joseph-musical-2021/