Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at the Wales Millennium Centre from 9th-13th May as part of a UK tour. I decided at the last-minute to throw caution to the wind and get tickets for CM and me.
CM is 8, and whilst our experience of theatre has been positive, our experience of musical theatre has been varied. Last year she shone when she and her classmates had the opportunity to sing with Peter Karrie. CM’s year group sang songs from Cats and Joseph. So it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice originally developed Joseph in response to a request for a ‘pop cantata’ for a school choir to sing at an end of term concert. And whilst it’s transformed over the years from a 15 minute school performance to copyrights worth in excess of £1m, it’s ability to bring an audience together shows no sign of paling.The current production sees Joe McElderry take the role of Joseph and Lucy Kay a pivotal role as narrator. And in this I loved the diversity of the audience, so many were there for these two, and of the two actors- deservedly.
Joe McElderry seems to effortlessly breathe a wonderfully optimistic persona. Whilst the role of Joseph takes on good times and bad times, there was a faith offered which meant it was ok. Joe’s grasp of all the music and lyrics was solid, particularly in Close Every Door. But he also embraced the fun, seemingly consciously taking the audience with him when the opportunity to engage is offered.
The role of narrator has a constant presence. Lucy Kay was almost exhausting in her performance. She confidently took on the breadth and range Joseph offers with precision and beauty.
Somewhat contrasting, but just as spectacular, was Ben James-Ellis as the Pharaoh. Thanks to B’s recent turn in his class assembly, CM was the first to get excited about Elvis being on stage. There’s really not a lot not to love about this production of Joseph. The set design and costumes are strong and engaging. There’s sheep- again, what’s not to love? The choir comes in the form of the Bristol School of Performing Arts, and they are faultless.
There are so many strong performances that Joseph doesn’t disappoint.
CM did mention that one of the differences in this musical to others is that it is delivered completely through song. At 8 she did find this quite challenging, especially when the music reached crescendos and she was trying to understand and absorb the dialogue.
But then there was humour, and fortunately none of the more distressing scenes were drawn out. Which meant it was perfect for school children. I loved what I learned about CM by taking her out for the evening:
My concern about her not enjoying books with chapters is misplaced. Before the performance I tried to talk her through the whole ‘story of Joseph’. She stopped me to ask if her recollection was correct. What proceeded was word-perfect. It seems CM choice of reading at school is the bible and she has far better summation skills than me.
On ordering a bottle of water and diet coke at the bar, CM piped up with “Gosh mummy, these drinks are reasonable priced.” I concluded my daughter is very polite. The bartender and I concluded my daughter’s value of money will improve once she gets a job.
CM is positive her climbing instructor, Josh, was one of the Joseph’s brothers. On letting her know that we couldn’t stay behind to meet the cast to verify this, she told me she’d just ask Josh on Saturday. My daughter’s logic is sound.
My daughter rated Joseph a 9/10 (compared to my 8/10). Bad points were associated with the storyline, good points were to do with the performances, costume design and humour. CM is a great critic.
I don’t take my daughter out enough. And I should. I learn so much.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at the Wales Millennium Centre from 9th-13th May 2017. Tickets are available via the WMC website.