Review by Michelle Fisher
Thursday Night saw the opening of Sydney’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamCoat at the Capitol Theatre.
Loosely based on the biblical story from the Book of Genesis about Jacob and his sons, of which Joseph was his favourite, this is an old school musical that I think I last saw some 25 years ago. As such, I was interested to see how it would translate to today’s audiences.
Written in 1968 by a very young Tim Rice and Andrew Llyod Weber for a school choir, there is nothing all that incredible in the lyrics- they are simple and often almost a bit silly and yet as I found myself inwardly singing every word … they are enduring, joyous and memorable. Not just one but almost 20 of those tunes often referred to in musical theatre as “earworms” – the tracks that never leave your head.
From the opening of “Any Dream Will Do “ and “Joseph’s Coat” through “Close Every Door to Me “ and the hilarious camped up version of the “Song of the King “ , this “old school” musical had the audience cheering and singing and at the end dancing in a joyous 2 hr spectacle.
It is a night of fun, colour , big dance numbers and these enduring songs brought together by a wonderful band and some excellent production elements that make this one of those shows where you forget what’s happening in your real life and where you can see the joy on the audiences faces as they leave the theatre.
Vocally, Paulini as the Narrator is the shining star throughout the entire show. It is a demanding role with almost all of the dialogue set to song yet Paulini effortlessly sings and dances her way through the ballads and the belts truly highlighting her range and incredible talent. She may not have the Titular Role here, but it is definitely her show.
Sadly the only thing I felt taking away from her performance was that she was also tasked with playing joseph’s father, Jacob – donning a coat and fake beard whenever she had to swap roles. I imagine it was a nod to the “school play” aspect of this show – to me it was 'pantomimey' and detracted from any real character Jacob may have had and the professionalism of the production as a whole.
Euan Fistrovic Doidge has a good stage presence and as Joseph had some lovely moments but at times, I felt he lacked the “star” quality needed for this lead. Having said that he did a wonderful job of one of the most poignant songs in the show ” Close Every Door To Me “ and the audience certainly appreciated his efforts.
Trevor Ashley brought in as Pharaoh in the 2nd Act gives a fun, over the top performance as a camp Elvis in the” Song of Kings”. Definitely a crowd favourite, Trevor plays to his adoring audience and they lap it up .
The surprise gift for me was Daniel Raso’s performance of those “Canaan Days”. It is comically staged with the ensemble and can can dancers which in itself was fun, but his voice was magnificent and he fully shone in this performance. Definitely someone I would like to see more of on our stages.
The ensemble is a hard working collection of triple threats and they are a delight to watch as they sing and dance their way through the show. Going back to its roots as a “ school “ musical the children who play a variety of roles (8 each night with a total of 32 altogether) round off the full cast. They are fun, incredibly dedicated and joyful and I was especially pleased that all 32 were included in the opening night finale whether they were part of that night’s cast or not. A fitting acknowledgement to what I am sure has been many many hours of work for these young performers.
One of the absolute highlights of this show outside of its on stage talent has to be the costume and set design and Morgan Large has done an incredible job of both. Joseph's coat is every bit as resplendent as the show’s title suggests and the set is creative and imaginative with chariots of gold, camels , a Vegas style Egypt and the ever changing sun/ moon being just some of the many gorgeous design elements.
Overall this is musical that won’t set the world on fire but will give you and the family a fun night out that you can all enjoy together and, if like me you are Gen Xer, some great moments down memory lane – ah those “ Canaan Days “ !