In all of my 36 years, this is the first time I have ever seen a live performance of Joseph, yet I know pretty much every single word to all of the songs. Last night I surprised myself with the eerie ability to access this vault of information that has been tucked away somewhere in the recesses of my brain for about 25 years, as the 11-year-old Jason Donovan fan in me emerged blinking, yet joyous, into the brightly-lit theatre.
It may not have been Mr Donovan taking the eponymous role in this performance, but that didn't matter. In a role that has also been famously performed by Philip Schofield and Donny Osmond, Joe McElderry admittedly had some big shoes to fill, but he had no trouble in doing so. Backed by an energetic and talented cast, McElderry's Joseph shone almost as brightly as his fancy coat. His faultless vocal talent was matched only by fellow talent-show contestant Lucy Kay in her role as the Narrator. Both performers were outstanding; the backbone to a timeless family show that had the audience at the New Theatre on its feet by the megamix at the end.
For a biblical story about the youngest of 12 brothers being sold into slavery, the show itself is nothing but cheerful camp goodness. Considering it has been one of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's longest running shows, it still seems as fresh and fun as it must have when it was first performed. The beautiful and rather elegant Egyptian set and the 'technicolor' light show provided a warm hug of a setting that would brighten up the coldest of nights.
The whole cast work hard from start to finish, the brothers leaping around the stage while Henry Metcalfe provides an air of calm in his role as their father, Jacob. As well as the leads, it is Emilianos Stamatakis who stood out for me, throwing himself into the Elvis-a-like role of Pharaoh with aplomb.
I'm sure my thorough enjoyment of the performance was aided by the fact that I had worn my cassette tape out of the Jason Donovan version as a child, but it is tribute to the wide-ranging styles of music (pop, ballad, calypso, and of course, rock and roll Elvis-style), songs and lyrics and the fast-paced nature of the show that meant my adult self was just as mesmerised as the child within.