Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Capitol Theatre (NSW)
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Tim Rice. Directed by Laurence Connor.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Capitol Theatre, Sydney Until Sunday 19th February
- A kaleidoscope of colour, nostalgia and fun awaits you at Joseph, if you can look past its relevancy and questionable choices -
After half a century since its inception, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat makes its way (yet again) into the Australian theatre scene with as much colour and spectacle that it can possibly summon. Led by its two stellar leads, Joseph is not without its share of controversy, but ultimately aims to bring nostalgia, joyous smiles and toe-tapping pleasantries to its audience.
Springing its creators, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, into a career of theatrical fame, the musical follows the Genesis bible story of Jacob’s favourite son Joseph (Euan Fistrovic Doidge) and his eleven brothers, who sell Joseph into slavery out of jealousy. From there, Joseph ends up imprisoned by an Egyptian noble and upon discovering his ability to interpret dreams, eventually becomes the Pharaoh’s (Trevor Ashley) right hand man, helping to bring an end to Egypt’s famine. All the while framed as a children’s story to some adorably singing tots by the Narrator (Paulini).
Photograph: Cavanagh PR
The score of the show covers musical genres from tap-dance numbers, western hoedowns, Elvis impersonations, and musical theatre ballads. It’s safe to say that Joseph has become an institution in the musical theatre world, particularly in England, with more than 20,000 school and amateur productions of the show being performed, and touring to over 80 countries. The West End adaptation starring Jason Donovan is perhaps the musical’s best known version that any theatre fan would be able to utilise at a pub trivia night.
Carrying the show on their shoulders, the two leads, Euan Fistrovic Doidge and Paulini are by far the draw-card for this production. Doidge manages to imbue Joseph with a playful and soft quality, gliding his way majestically through each song. In the standout, hair-raising number “Close Every Door”, Doidge manages notes that shake the dust off the musical’s pages and make it soar. Paulini meanwhile proves herself to be a superstar on the stage. From her very first note, heads turned to each other open-mouthed at the strength of her vocal control. Soaring in and out with ease, Paulini tap-danced, jived and took on characters fluidly. By the end of the show, she had the audience in the palm of her hand.
In the cameo role of the Pharaoh, Trevor Ashley (who you’ll note is a theatre and stage actor, and not a football player) has the most fun with his Elvis-impersonating Rameses. Ashley proved why they’re a treasure of the Sydney stage, throwing knowing winks and waves at members of the audience who were giving the most to his number.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat does what it says on the box - it’s a kaleidoscope of colour, fun for the whole family.
Ben Cracknell’s lighting design pairs well with Morgan Large’s set and costumes to make over-the-top explosions of colour that infiltrate your senses and beg you to come and play with them. It’s nothing innovative or clever, but generally just works with the show itself.
So, where does the show’s controversy sit? Given that it is now old in terms of the theatrical landscape, there is a fair amount of appropriation in the costuming and choreography choices in some numbers. Particularly in the wholly ridiculous and unnecessary can-can dance sequence featuring mostly-white presenting actors in hijabs. Even the throwaway joke to make this pay off didn’t resonate or get the laughs it so clearly wanted. Couple this with a slightly icky sexual scene between Paulini in Egyptian character and Joseph, and it's clear why some audiences believe it doesn’t resonate with the changing face of Australian theatre. From what one can gather from its run in Melbourne, it’s clear the producers took this feedback on board and attempted to tone down some elements for its Sydney season.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat does what it says on the box - it’s a kaleidoscope of colour, fun for the whole family. Parents and friends of children in the show will delight at seeing their little one on stage, those who have performed in the show with their community theatre group will revel in their nostalgia, and those who just want colour and noise with two strong leads will flock to the production. We’re just thankful Brad Fittler wasn’t chosen to belt out “Song of the King”.
Tim Rice LYRICS
Andrew Lloyd Webber MUSIC
Laurence Connor DIRECTOR
Joann M. Hunter CHOREOGRAPHER
Morgan Large SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER
Ben Cracknell LIGHTING DESIGNER
Gareth Owen SOUND DESIGNER
Tim Lawson PRODUCER
Really Useful Group Michael Harrison PRODUCER
CAST Euan Fistrovic Doidge JOSEPH
Paulini THE NARRATOR
Trevor Ashley PHARAOH
Seryan Burke-Low SWING
Sarah Dimas ENSEMBLE
Matt Douglass SWING
David Duketis ENSEMBLE
David Hammond SWING
Jackson Head ENSEMBLE
Alex Hyne REUBEN
Hanlon Innocent ENSEMBLE
Nat Jobe ENSEMBLE
Heath Keating SWING
Avigalle Mendoza ENSEMBLE
William Motunuu ENSEMBLE
Courtney Murray ENSEMBLE
Catrina Ralph ENSEMBLE
Daniel Raso SIMEON
Annabelle Rosewarne ENSEMBLE
Ashlee Hammerin SWING
Asmara Soekotjo ENSEMBLE
Gabriella Tooma ENSEMBLE
William Tukia-Edwards ENSEMBLE
Nicolas Van Litsenborgh ENSEMBLE
Nicole Vella SWING
Stephanie Wall ENSEMBLE
Jaime Rose Griffiths