Andrew Lloyd Webber is a renown and celebrated composer of musical theatre. One of his first musical credits is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that he created alongside lyricist Tim Rice back in 1968. It’s been exactly 30 years since Australia last saw Joseph in a major musical production, but this theatre classic is back.
For those unaware of Joseph’s story, it isn’t hard to follow. Derived from The Bible’s Book of Genesis, Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob, who has no less than twelve sons. In an action of affection, his father gifts him a long coat of many colours. However, out of jealousy, his dastardly brothers decide to sell Joseph into slavery to be rid of him.
Admittedly, I found this a bit extreme. I would (and have) kick up a fuss if my siblings received better treatment due to favouritism, but I wouldn’t exactly sell them! All of this is pretty much derived exactly from the bible including a very uncomfortable scene of Joseph being seduced against his will (affirmative consent is important and is now the law) and being whipped due to Joseph being enslaved by the Egyptians from his brothers’ actions. According to the bible, Joseph‘s story functions as an explanation for Israel’s residence in Egypt.
Technically Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is, well, amazing. The set is gorgeous with constellations, stars, and even the costuming is extremely colourful. By just looking at it, it’s hard not to feel excited about this show. Whilst being flashy and bright, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, in a technical perspective, still feels like an old school musical, but in a good way.
The cast also do their best with they’ve been given. The role in Australia was originated by Tina Arena, but Paulini here in this new production does a great job as The Narrator. She looks like she’s having fun, she makes the role her own, and even changes her body stances and voice slightly whenever she is taking on different characters inserted in the story, while she is still narrating. Her voice and perfect diction never had me lost in what was happening, as she was so clear and concise with everything. I had previously seen Paulini in the musical production of The Bodyguard a few years ago, and she’s really improved tenfold since I last witnessed her in a musical.
In his musical debut and exclusive to Melbourne, Shane Crawford plays the role of Pharaoh. He only really appears from the second act, but he is a welcome and refreshing change from the seriousness of the first act. And while Crawford isn’t exactly vocally trained, I cannot deny his infectious and captivating charisma, with Crawford giving his best to dish out a very enthusiastic and Elvis inspired performance with consistent cheek and swagger. Although musicals aren’t his forte, Crawford gives the role his all and I would honestly love to see him in a play someday where he can really flex is creative muscles and let his talents shine. I hope this isn’t the first and last time we see him on stage, because he really does have something special that just needs some finetuning, support, time, and care.
The true hero of this musical, however, is Euan Fistrovic Doidge as the titular character, Joseph. With his charming smile and incredible stage presence, Fistrovic Doidge, he is delightfully soothing in ‘Any Dream Will Do’, but his performance left me breathless during his phenomenal rendition of ‘Close Every Door’. Perhaps the song that cemented fellow Australian, Jason Donovan’s career as a multifaceted performer, there needs to be more praise for Fistrovic Doidge in this career defining role. I for one, sat up straight, was left speechless and gaping in awe after hearing him sing such an iconic song.
Overall, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is an interesting and dazzling musical. While I am baptised and was brought up Roman Catholic, I am currently not religious and wasn’t aware of Joseph‘s story until this show. But you don’t have to be religious follow the story. Although severely outdated and definitely not lining up with how society has changed (I mean, this wild story is from The Bible, guys), I cannot deny that there is a reason Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was celebrated in the past. The music is great, the current cast are talented, the message of forgiveness is evident, and the set and costuming is spectacular.
If you are an avid theatre goer like me, love your old school musicals and want to tick off another classic on your musical bucket list, it would be wise not to wait and make sure you see this before it leaves. Because I’m not sure when it will come back (may possibly be another 30 years before it does, if at all).
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is now playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre until January 8th. It then opens in Sydney from February 11th with its season currently scheduled until early April.
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Photography by Daniel Boud.