Review: Joseph at the Theatre Royal Windsor
The Hangover meets the book of Genesis, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, is like a bible study group’s road trip to Vegas – surreal, intoxicating (or should that be intoxicated?) and brilliantly bonkers. All that was missing was Mike Tyson and an angry tiger in a smashed up hotel room.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber/ Tim Rice musical has been doing the rounds for years, but it is a far cry from the laboured school productions that we’ve all endured – heavy on the fire and brimstone and light on razzle dazzle.
Not in this show. Yes, it’s theatre fondue, but Bill Kenwright’s production – the longest-running touring show in history, now in its 38th unstoppable year – remains an irrepressible delight. It has something of a cult following, too, judging by singing, whooping and dancing from the audience.
Union J popstrel Jaymi Hensley has been passed the gilded loin cloth worn by Jason Donovan, Philip Schofield, Denise Van Outen’s ex Lee Mead (remember him?), Gareth Gates, H from Steps, Joe McElderry and more. Let’s hope it’s had a good wash over the years.
So how did the talent show totty hold up? Well, as the Tim Rice lyric goes ‘Go, go, go Joseph, you know what they say,/ go, go, go Joseph, you’ll make it someday!’. If I were Jaymi, I’d bin off Union J and pursue a career in musicals. He was good. Really good. A superb singing voice – only occasionally drowned out by the enthusiastic live orchestra – he pulled off a silver lamé pelmet and managed to remain half naked without turning blue. These old theatres are terribly drafty.
It’s important to remember that although Joseph has his name up in lights, the show is nothing without the ensemble cast. I loved the 11 back-stabbing brothers whether they were cowboys selling their golden child sibling to the highest bidder, beret wearing Frenchmen singing Those Canaan Days or getting their Copacabana on in frilly shirts for Benjamin Calypso, they all brought personality to their roles and humour to the audience.
Special mention has to go to rock ‘n’ roll Elvis Pharoah (Andrew Geater). A man who looks like Elvis and Donny Osmond’s love child, but those hips don’t lie and he brought the house down belting out Song Of The King. Mrs Potipher also left a big impression. The sexy seduction scene may have purists gnashing their teeth, but I’m all for a cougar on the prowl in a skirt split to her hip.
Trina Hill carries the weight of the narrator role with ease – and she’s got a lot of singing to do. Her experience made her performance enjoyable to watch, but in places her vocals were a little too much, mistaking power for shrieking.
I thought I’d like Joseph in a warm, familiar kinda way, but I LOVED it. It’s goes off like a rocket, so don’t miss the chance to see it you have until Saturday.
Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is on at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Sat 2 Mar.