Forty-five years on and Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat is still wowing audiences. How does it do it?
When the curtains open at the Palace Theatre in Manchester for the latest production of this perennial musical favourite nothing has changed; and to be honest, nothing needs to.
Yes, there is a hint of the 70s about it – brash, colourful and a little Abba-esque with its pacey, catchy melodies and OTT costumes, but somehow you love it all the same.
Angel-faced X-Factor (2009) finalist Lloyd Daniels is making his musical theatre debut in this production in the lead role – and he makes rather a good job of it thanks to a voice that can handle everything from the sensitive ‘Close Every Door’ to the show-stopping ‘Any Dream Will Do’.
Look out also for an appearance by Elvis, aka Pharaoh (Matt Lapinskas), whose rendition of Song of the King (Seven Fat Cows) brings the house down.
Anyone who has seen it before will know the songs embrace a glorious gallimaufry of genres, including the aforementioned rock ‘n’ roll, calypso, country and French café. And when these are not delivered by characters from the story, narrator Danielle Hope steps in. She has a tough job, with songs that demand incredible range and require her to be fronting the action one minute and blending into the background the next.
The Palace was packed on its first night, and with an age range of about 60 years in the audience, excited kids to smiling grandparents, you can rest assured everyone will enjoy it.
With meticulously enunciated dialogue – all sung, of course – great choreography and tight harmonic arrangements, this is a slick production from start to finish.
For me, the biggest surprise of the evening was that, almost 40 years on from appearing in a school production of Joseph, I could still remember most of the words: toe-tapping escapism at its best.