JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING
(2001 / 2002 TOUR)
The week before I went to see Joseph, audiences at Bradford's Alhambra Theatre were sat in fierce concentration, watching just three actors perform the intellectually taxing Copenhagen on a sparse stage.
But on the opening night of Tim Rice's and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical spectacular at the same venue, the scene was rather different; as the world famous show drew to a close, men, women and children alike were clapping, cheering, singing and even dancing in the aisles.
What a difference a week makes.
I’ve often seen Joseph slated by critics for what being what Americans would term a ‘no brainer’ but, in these troubled times for our theatres, the Bradford public voted with their feet, put their bums firmly on seats, and packed out the Alhambra from top to bottom.
The famous musical charts the life of Joseph, favourite son of Jacob, who was also father of eleven other boys. Joseph is given an amazing Technicolor coat by his father, and dreams he will become a great and successful man. This causes consternation among his brothers who take him out into the desert, strip him of his dazzling coat, and sell him as a slave. They return home and tell their father Joseph is dead.
As one would expect for such a Webber / Rice all-singing, all-dancing musical extravaganza, no expense has been spared on the set or wardrobe, with the cast appearing to change garb for almost every one of the 18 scenes.
The vibrant production is littered with slapstick humour and Monty Pythonesque surrealism, including talking camel and sphinx heads. The appearance of a fire eater on stage thrilled and enthralled the audience, circus-style.
Given that Joseph was written entirely using music and lyrics, the vocal ability of the cast was always going to be key to its success. Vivienne Carlisle gave a flawless and powerful performance as the Narrator, and Trevor Jary proved a huge hit as the Pharaoh that looked, acted and sung just like Elvis.
Dan Greavey’s comical cameo as the Butler was also worthy of note, and special mention must go to the Leeds-based Young Showstoppers Choir, whose subtle tones complemented beautifully the powerful vocals of the leading lights.
But the final word must be reserved for Graham Tudor as Joseph. At the end of the opening night performance, as a delighted audience of all ages rained applause down on the cast, urging an encore, Tudor looked like the happiest man in the world. An actor not just turning out to pay the rent, but one doing a job he truly loved.
So to hell with the critics; this escapist, feel-good production is sure to warm your heart and put a big, fat happy smile on your face.
Copyright J A Waddington 2002. For syndication rights, please email.
STUFF TO BUY:
By Tim Rice
Original Broadway Cast
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