Review of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
In the Bord Gais Energy Theatre Dublin
Bill Kenwright's production of Joseph, the familiar Old Testament story, one of the earliest collaborations between lyricist Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber isn't substantially different from the last production in Dublin five years ago. But then, if it isn't broke why fix it?
Everything that made that production memorable is here again, and in terms of dance, sound, and colour, with more pep in its step.
Rice's witty, playfully wicked lyrics achieve maximum effect in Kenwright and choreographer Henry Metcalfe's hands. When the brothers tell Jacob his favourite son has died defending them from a wild beast, they're kitted out in cowboy hats, in a whoop-it-up barn-dance number: 'There's One More Angel In Heaven'.
Then famine comes to Canaan, Joseph's hungry clan lament their plight to a Parisian cafe tune in berets and Breton Jerseys, culminating in a scene worthy of the Moulin Rouge. The 'Benjamin Calypso' is a colourful and lively slice of Mardi Gras, led by Joseph's brother Dan, played by Marcus Ayton, while the first act closes vibrant negro spiritual 'Go Go Go Joseph.'
But still the most exciting, and almost wackily best number of all is the long-anticipated appearance of Pharaoh in an Egypt as lurid as Las Vegas, with the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself in residence. Matt Lapsinkas, clad in what looks like a voice-heighteningly tight white suit, covered in Egyptian symbols explains his dream to Joseph with lashings of hip swivels and huskily strangulated vowels, accompanied by jackal-headed football players and cheer-leaders. Later he laments the solitariness of pharaonic power in a ballad narrated to the narrator of Joseph's travails, Danielle Hope.
The narrator is much more of a hands-on presence in this production, acting like Joseph's unbeaten spirit when he languishes in jail, thrown there by the rich speculator in pyramid shares Potiphar, who discovers the young man with his wife.
Hope is on powerful vocal form throughout, along with Joseph, Potiphar and Pharoah, a leading light of the showJoseph, played by Lloyd Daniels is on fine form too, even managing to tint this apple of his father's eye with a little smugness, making his brothers murderous envy of him more understandable. Crucially he also keeps the show's fairly regular reprises sounding fresh and brings a certain amount of poignancy to 'Close Every Door. Joseph's prison lament.