Reviews are in for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical returns to the London Palladium to widespread acclaim.
Starring Sheridan Smith, Jason Donovan and Jac Yarrow in his West End debut, director Laurence Connor’s (School of Rock) revival of this much loved family friendly musical was a sure fire hit with the audience on opening night.
Read our round-up of reviews below.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is booking until 8 September 2019 at the London Palladium.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat reviews
"Sheridan Smith and Jason Donovan bring charisma to a jubilant revival"
"I first saw this show in 1972 when it was a modest 40-minute musical playing at Edinburgh festival. Now it is a two-hour spectacle. What keeps the show alive is its delight in simple storytelling, the bounce of Tim Rice’s lyrics and the merry eclecticism of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score, which embraces country and western, calypso, French chanson and Elvis-style rock. "
"Sheridan Smith and Jason Donovan bring charisma to a jubilant revival – but neither can match the young dreamer at its centre"
"The discovery is Yarrow, who plays Joseph as a naive dreamer slowly waking up to his prophetic gifts. He stops the show with his rendering of Close Every Door, which he delivers with rising anguish."
"Smith's reinvented this role with humour and intelligence,"
"This 2019 reimagining by director Laurence Connor has plucked an unknown as Joseph, following a tweet from his drama college production praising his talent. Yarrow, a 21-year-old student due to graduate this summer, brings a new intensity and energy to the role — think The Night Manager meets Joseph. When he sings "Close Every Door" — amid the dazzling prison set — with vein-bulging brilliance, his true potential emerges.
"But this performance isn't about the new boy. It was always about Sheridan Smith returning to the stage after her rollercoaster ride in Funny Girl, where she triumphed following a breakdown. And ‘by 'eck', as her Narrator would say, she's reinvented this role with humour and intelligence, bringing Joseph something it's never had before — some actual depth."
"Adopting an oft-changing northern accent, she shifts from Narrator to Jacob (Joseph’s dad) and Potiphar’s evil wife, popping out from behind her disguises with a cheerful: ‘It’s still me!’
Dancing brilliantly when needed and clumsily when she plays for laughs, fist-bumping with the (talented) kids on stage and snapping a selfie with the audience mid-song, she commands the spotlight in a Biblical-style comeback."
"Laurence Connor breathes zesty new life into those potent, familiar songs"
"Director Laurence Connor breathes zesty new life into those potent, familiar songs, and in newcomer Jac Yarrow has found a man with formidable pipes and enough charm to imbue the blank lead character with some personality."
"The real motor of the evening is Sheridan Smith, returning to the stage for the first time since 2016. As the narrator, the former Evening Standard Theatre Award-winner takes a series of hilarious cameo roles, belting out songs and hoofing through dance routines with a huge grin."
"This musical was never subtle. The plot barely fills the first number, "Any Dream Will Do", and Joseph himself is really irritating. The songs tick off musical genres — country and western, rock, chanson, calypso — as they go. Rice's lyrics and Lloyd Webber's melodies are deceptively simple but worm their way into your brain. The lack of pretension is the key. Laurence Connor's production celebrates the absurdity of somersaulting kids wearing biblical beards, and a Hebrew confronted with a Parisian dance routine moaning: "I said Canaan, not Can-Can!"
"Jac Yarrow is a great Joseph"
"Is this a show or a cult? As I left, the entire audience was standing and swaying, singing and clapping. Everyone was ecstatic, thrilled to be here"
"Jac Yarrow is a great Joseph. He's 21, from Cardiff, and straight out of the Arts Educational School. Now he has the dressing room at the Palladium where Judy Garland once lounged."
"The Narrator is played by the musical megastar Sheridan Smith with an achingly irritating amount of tomfoolery. Cute eye rolls. Little fist pumps. Knowing mouth grimaces. I wanted to strangle her by the end of the first half."
"It's a kitsch set by Morgan Large. Jason Donovan is full-on camp-tastic as Pharaoh in golden loincloth and sparkly trainers. The choreography (JoAnn M Hunter) feels wooden at times and the camels (with wheels) are just ropey."
"It’s a boon to see Smith treading West End boards again"
"No one can argue that Joseph – which owes as much to Butlins, you feel, as the Bible – possesses immense sophistication. Or that it had the subversion as Hair, which came to London the same year as that first try-out (1968). Yet, free from the shackles of deference, and boldly making use of a through-sung format, it marched to the same anything-goes counter-cultural tune of the time."
"It’s a boon to see Smith treading West End boards again: her Narrator, very girl-next-door in simple top and joggers, has a silky-rich voice and a sunbeamy smile so bright you may need to apply factor 50."
"You think Yarrow has walked off with the show, then up rises Donovan's Pharoah amid MGM-levels of gilded pomp and milks every over-extended moment of his Elvisy rock number, hip-thrusting with a machismo that belies his feline Egyptian eye-shadow."
"It’s a massive blast of joy"
"Lloyd Webber and Rice wrote it for a school choir. It makes so much sense for children, and for a childlike sense of fun and innocence, to be the driving force. It gives the show a purpose that a lot of other stale productions have failed to find."
"The design sort of builds from nothing; at the start it's a couple of sheets hung up by the corners to look like sand dunes. By the interval, we've got 10ft tall, gold-plated, guitar-playing sphinxes – the power of the children's imagination. There are starbursts of rainbow colours, unsubtle and childlike, matching those qualities in Lloyd Webber's music."
"Connor really does not know what to do with the women in the ensemble. There's an equal gender split – great – and a really diverse cast, too – also great – but the men get to play actual characters, while the women have nothing to do except being never fully clothed and dancing sexily."
"At the centre is narrator Sheridan Smith in a glittering tracksuit treating us to two hours of cheeky, perfectly timed comedy. There are so few entertainers like her, and she makes such a massive change from the cloyingly sweet school teacher narrators that have usually corralled the kid chorus in Joseph. Instead, she’s like a naughty babysitter, or some anarchic imp, dreaming up this bright and silly world as she goes along."
"What a joyous treat this splendid new revival is."
"Somehow the show seems bigger, richer, deeper and even more ridiculous fun than ever."
"Director Laurence Connor has elevated the show with inventive staging, hilarity and unexpectedly heartfelt emotion."
"New tricks abound, especially in the use of Sheridan Smith as the Narrator. Already gloriously gurning for laffs, she breaks new ground by tackling three more roles – adding broad comedy accents and dodgy beards to play Joseph's father, the jailer and Potipha's randy wife. "Still me," she winks each time. Bless. And bliss."
"Her energy and exuberance throughout are infectious, merrily breaking the fourth wall to pull the audience right into the show."
"Elsewhere camels ride bicycles, Pharaoh's huge golden statues wield electric guitars and Joseph's brothers tap dance in sandals. The staging is simple but with so many smart touches and endless visual gags, it is as entertaining as the performances themselves."
"The show has the emotional heft of a beetroot"
"Unfortunately the show has the emotional heft of a beetroot, and is so flyaway that some of the iffier stuff seems worse than it might in a work of greater substance."
"The Egypt scenes are also burdened with a pretty weird turn from Jason Donovan, in the cameo-ish role of the Pharaoh. For whatever reason, his vocals were almost indecipherable, meaning my companion (a heathen) was oblivious to what the Pharaoh’s dream actually was – a fairly major plot point that I had to explain in the pub after."
"It’s a kids’ show with some winning songs and the budget of a small nation state. Of course it’s fun. But there’s no great revelation in this revival – it’s just a 50-year-old musical coasting on bright tunes and arched eyebrows."
"A joyfully fresh staging makes this a Joseph for 2019 - and a family-friendly summer hit."
"Throughout, the show feels fuelled by the wit of Lloyd Webber's parodic score (sounding wonderful here with a full orchestra) and, in particular, Rice's sublimely silly yet highly efficient lyrics; who else would rhyme "pyjamas" and "farmers"? It leans into the giddy fun of the piece, showing it's very much in on the joke, while (problematic calypso aside...) adding just enough of an update to also make it a convincingly contemporary production."