If school musicals were ever a part of your early education, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat may ring a bell as being “that time you got to dress in flamboyant costumes and belt out big songs that had a link to the Bible”. In fact, by 2008, more than 20,000 schools and amateur theatre groups had staged productions – making it one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most adapted musicals.
The story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is pulled from the book of Genesis, where the son of Jacob is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers who are offended by his dreams and the interpretation of them. Joseph ends up imprisoned by an Egyptian noble after famously being seduced by Potiphar’s wife, and his brothers learn a lesson in grace when Joseph has a chance to forgive them for casting him out.
Led by Paulini as the narrator with Euan Fistrovic Doidge (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pippen) as Joseph, the production doesn’t really focus on the story so much as use it as a vehicle for another costume change and to paint things in gold. Lots and lots of gold.
The production doesn’t really focus on the story so much as use it as a vehicle for another costume change and to paint things in gold.
Maybe it’s because of the kids in the cast or the time-warped aesthetic of the production, but one of the greatest challenges for this musical is that you can’t help but feel like you’ve been pulled into your neighbours’ kids’ school show and you’re not sure how honest to be about how well they’re doing.
The story of Joseph is a valid one with layers of insight into brotherly jealousy, abuse and remaining faithful through injustice. There’s no expectation that a comedically over the top musical is going to explore that, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’s emotional vacancy gives the whole outing little consequence.
In its favour, the ensemble cast gave the crowd plenty of moments to sing along to – with varying degrees of passion – and the kids on stage brought an energy and richness to iconic tracks like Any Dream Will Do and Go, Go, Go Joseph that’ll take you back to your year seven chorus line.
The story of Joseph is a valid one with layers of insight into brotherly jealousy, abuse and remaining faithful through injustice.
Paulini is the anchor of the show. Her voice and confidence gave her unmatched presence on stage and without her gathering together the overzealous aerobics class that is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the chariot’s wheels would have fallen off long ago.
You’ll want to love it more, but ultimately Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat feels like a fusion between a Wiggles concert, a school musical and a church production with a big enough budget to dress its most talented congregates in fancy clothes.
Overheard on the night: “Just like they take the ‘u’ out of ‘technicolor’ ‘you’ don’t want to be there”.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is playing at The Capitol Theatre now.