Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Location: The Mayflower, Southampton

Jason Donovan company in JATATD Credit Tristram Kenton lr

Jason Donovan and company in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Credit: Tristram Kenton

By Tim Saunders

Back in 1968 when Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber collaborated to produce Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat they might have hoped their musical would stand the test of time but they didn’t know it would. Yet over 50 years later their smash hit is delighting a whole new generation of theatregoers as it tours the UK. What a massive achievement.

Sitting wide eyed in the Circle at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, which is packed, we feel very privileged to experience this show. Especially when you think of how difficult it has been for theatres over the last few years. There is a great atmosphere and we are treated to a visual feast; an array of brightly coloured costumes, scenery and of course fabulous lyrics from Tim Rice accompanied by marvellous music from Andrew Lloyd Webber. We all know 'I close my eyes' and in fact I have been humming this throughout the day, in preparation. This is as much a biblical celebration as it is a musical. It tells an important story in a really engaging way and it’s interesting how it lends itself so strongly to musical theatre. Who would have thought it? My wife and I watch alongside our three children, Harriett (11), Heidi (9) and Henry (6) and we are all equally mesmerised.

“I really like the mix of children and grown ups on the stage,” says Harriett. “Some of the youngsters play important roles like Potiphar.”

Heidi adds, “When Potiphar was being carried by so many I assumed he was an adult but when he stepped down he was a small child, which was funny.”

It is a tall order to tell a story through music and singing but we are in safe hands. There is a sprinkling of humour as well with Alexandra Burke doing various accents. She is full of energy, which is perhaps surprising when she is clearly pregnant. There’s a jovial French song as well as the can-can, at the end of which the lead singer says that he didn’t mean can-can but Canaan... When Pharoah (Jason Donovan) descends with a sash on his back saying The King, we are treated to an Elvis-like performance complete with Las Vegas lighting and signage. He jokes about his old age. 

We spy the lively young conductor and the musicians underneath the stage, which is particularly entertaining for Henry. Joseph (Jac Yarrow) has an extremely strong singing voice. We all enjoy how he makes 'Close every door' his own and Caroline finds this very emotional. The scenery is enchanting and we particularly like the Egypt set with its pyramids and gold. All very dramatic and slick, as you would expect. 

Certainly a holiday highlight for us all.

Catch it at The Mayflower until April 23. It’s next in the region from August 2 to 6 at New Victoria Theatre, Woking and finishes at Edinburgh Playhouse between October 25 and 29.


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