Originally written in 1968 as a 15 minute pop-cantata for a school choir in London, this first collaboration by a 19-year-old Andrew Lloyd Webber and a 22-year-old Tim Rice has undergone so many iterations since then that it’s doubtful that there is anyone left on the planet who has not either appeared in a school production or seen it presented as a stage spectacular.
This ebullient, post-pandemic production, while still quite spectacular, gives the show back to the kids, who happily don beards and join the adults to play many of the roles. It works a treat.
At this performance the role of Joseph was played by understudy, Jackson Head, who immediately owned the role, singing with confidence and performing with an unabashed youthfulness that was immediately engaging.
In an interesting co-incidence, at the same time Joseph is running in Sydney, Jason Donovan, who had great success with this role in a 1991 production in the London Palladium, then played the Pharaoh in this production in 2021, is currently also in Sydney chewing up the scenery in the 50th Anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show.
In this production though the show really belongs to the narrator, who not only narrates the story but who also interprets some of the characters. In this role, pop princess, Paulini reveals herself as a genuinely charismatic leading lady.
Flashing her wide smile, she sweeps around the stage, captivating the audience with the confidence and flair she brings to her interpretation. Her warm, lush singing tone and idiosyncratic phrasing surprises and refreshes her songs. However she will impress even more when she realises that not every word needs a gesture.
The role of the Pharaoh is played by Trevor Ashley, who does what Trevor Ashley does best; create a small sensation whenever he’s on stage. You have to see for yourself. And just to make sure you notice him, he’s accompanied by a troupe of gorgeous dancing girls and spectacular golden scenery featuring huge guitar-playing idols.
Essentially this is an ensemble production in which fine performances by the large ensemble cast, fun set and costume design incorporating delightful visual surprises, an excellent band and impressive technical support all add up to a hugely entertaining production.
If you’ve never seen a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or even if you feel you’ve seen too many productions of Joseph” – think again – you’ll kick yourself if you miss this one!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket (Sydney)
Performance: Sunday 19 February 2023 (matinee)
Season continues to 23 April 2023
Information and Bookings: www.josephthemusical.com.au
Image: Paulini and Trevor Ashley with Cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – photo by Daniel Boud
Review: Bill Stephens OAM