With its bright displays and desert setting, the celebratory atmosphere created by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat makes this production feel like a perfect show for the summer, even if the inevitable dancing along seems inadvisable in the heat! After sampling the delights of the New Theatre's newly-opened Mad Hatter-themed Wonderbar, including a few of their potent new cocktails, I made my way down to the auditorium in time to enjoy, prior to curtain-up, a play through of some of the musical's hits to get the audience in the mood.
The story is well-known, as are most of the catchy numbers, so it is impressive that in a production that has remained largely unchanged for several decades, based on an ancient legend, there are still new things to enjoy. This was reflected by the age-diversity of the crowd: while there were lots of school groups, their numbers were matched by adults who didn't need kids as an excuse to catch this beloved show. The first and last time I saw Joseph live, I was ten at most, and it was fun to notice details that had gone completely over my head as child. For example, when Joseph describes the sheaves of corn in his dream, he boasts that his are bigger than his brothers', in a way that is definitely an adult joke, skilfully hidden within the more family-friendly elements!
Of course, to avoid a longstanding production like this becoming tired, quite a lot of responsibility falls on the actors, and our cast did not fail to deliver. It may be his debut in a musical, but Jaymi Hensely slotted comfortably into the starring role, with a quality and passion to his voice that gave the character more depth than I initially anticipated - a sign of his Brit School training. Trina Hill as the narrator held her own for the most part, hitting some awesomely high notes, though very occasionally faltering to jarring effect. The multi-talented Henry Metcalfe - also the show's choreographer - brought a lot of comedy as the bumbling, slightly sleazy old fool Jacob, and the children of the chorus were pitch- and picture-perfect. For me, though, the best performances were from the band of brothers, who formed an ensemble cast to enrich the background characters as well, each infused with energy and personality. Joshua Robinson particularly stood out in this respect. Having 11 varied male voices serves many of the songs well, providing rich harmonies and eye-catching choreography.
I could quibble at the occasional out-of-date humour, the lack of three-dimensional women and the racial inaccuracies (and indeed during the interval I did overhear someone utter the phrase 'cultural appropriation') but that would be rather to miss the point: the aim of this show is not to present a moral message. With its playful mix of musical styles, overwhelming number of costume changes and all-round implausibility (including a Mighty Boosh-esque moment where a sphinx joins in the singing), this is a show which doesn't take itself too seriously. So if you dive in and go along with the silliness, it's a fun adventure for kids and a multicolour moment of escapism for grown ups, all served up with an undeniably catchy soundtrack.