X Factor finalist Lloyd Daniels’ skimpy costumes in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre are a mitigating factor, says David Mullane.
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is well known as the first Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and his first collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice (tgheir actual first musical was The Like of Us, written three years previously but not performed until 2005). Originally performed in 1968, Joseph has enjoyed both a long professional life on Broadway, the West End and on tour, as well as an enthusiastically received life as an amateur production in schools and halls around the world.
Almost completely sung-through, the show recounts the story of Joseph from the Old Testament’s Book of Genesis, a tale of jealousy, attempted fratricide, slavery, plague, dream analysis and a fabulous coat.
Over the years, many famous singers and performers have donned the coat, including Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Jason Donovan, Philip Schofield, Stephen Gately, Gareth Gates and, in this current touring production, X Factor finalist, Lloyd Daniels. Judging by this group of stars, the character of Joseph doesn’t demand much in the way of rugged manliness or brutish sexuality, but rather a certain twinky, teenage-girl-friendly, benign and even bland nature.
Daniels take on Joseph successfully wins over the younger members of the audience but his lack of charisma and the strange timbre of his voice (and recurring sibilance) fail to charm the adults. His skimpy costumes and bronzed bare torso and legs may mitigate these shortcomings for certain gay men and straight women, though.
Despite its Biblical setting, the show does not take itself seriously. There are inflatable sheep, an Elvis-impersonating pharaoh, cartoon cut-out sets, cheesy choreography that wouldn’t be amiss at a Christmas pantomime, and a score featuring incongruous pastiches of a variety of musical styles, including rock and roll, French balladry, western, disco, Calypso and the Charleston.
It would be unfair to critique the show using the usual standards of musical theatre because Joseph does not have the same ambitions as Lloyd Webber’s other work. At times, the show feels more like an incredibly competent amateur production, an impression cemented by the choir of young children who sit onstage for the entire performance – and they are fantastic, not missing a single cue.
The show doesn’t concern itself, and neither should the audience, with politically correct representations of the Arab world, the skewed values of the brothers or the silliness of the entire production. Charitably described as a junior show, Joseph runs considerably shorter than regular musicals (the first act concludes in a neat 45 minutes) and the Joseph Megamix (a thumping encore mash-up of the show’s songs) at the end bulks up the running time by a good ten, if not 15 minutes. These final moments turned the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre into a sort of summer camp or holiday resort underage disco. For the sheer novelty and charm of this experience, grab the nearest child, grab your coat and go!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat will run until August 23 at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
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