Opera House, Manchester
Until Saturday 2nd April 2022
It wasn’t all that long ago that touring productions of major West End musicals would almost always hit the regions in massively scaled down touring versions, lacking the big, West End-style production values, and very rarely, if ever, with the original London casts involved.
Thankfully things have really started to change in recent years. We’ve seen major musicals like Bat out of Hell and Back to the Future premiere ‘out of town’ in Manchester before heading to the West End, with most major touring productions now getting bigger and better, retaining those big budget values and delivering much improved touring versions that regional audiences deserve to see.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is further proof of that, and the smash-hit new London Palladium production now opens in Manchester ahead of a major new UK and Ireland tour following two sold out summer seasons in London’s West End.
There’s no denying that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is a fun show. It is a show that makes you beam from ear to ear throughout, then leave the theatre uplifted, enthused and singing all the great songs long into the night!
Bill Kenwright’s trusty old touring production – which has toured with impressive regularity since it was first staged back in 1979 – may have broken numerous records over the years, but it was starting to feel tired and dated, even if it had become something of an institution.
Laurence Connor’s inspired new staging gives us a refreshed and revitalised new version of the much loved show, injecting more energy, bringing things up to date, incorporating some excellent new set and costume designs courtesy of Morgan Large, and adding in considerably more dance content than previously seen, expertly choreographed by Joann M. Hunter.
Connor’s production also makes good use of the children’s chorus – similar to the 1999 film version starring Donny Osmond, which unfolds in a primary school assembly hall – with many of the children here playing principle roles usually played by adults, rather than having them just sitting about on the steps as with other productions.
The excellent Jac Yarrow made his professional debut as Joseph in the 2019 London Palladium revival (returning for the 2021 summer season) and now returns once again to the role that saw him nominated for the 2020 Olivier Award for Best Actor In A Musical, and deservedly so!
Yarrow is joined by the sensational Alexandra Burke who brings the house down as The Narrator (and in a fun new twist doubles as Jacob and other characters) as well as former Joseph, Jason Donovan, who has great fun with the role of Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s grand entrance in this new production is particularly spectacular.
Special mention too to Matt Gibson as Rueben and Will Hawksworth as Simeon, who leads a brilliant rendition of the hilarious Those Canaan Days.
Featuring a truly outstanding band led by musical director John Rigby, a strong ensemble cast, and filled with clever new additions and tweaks, this joyous production has set a new benchmark for the show, and it is no wonder audiences are flocking back night after night to see this inspired new version of one of musical theatre’s best loved shows.
Running Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes (approx.), including one 15-minute interval.
Final Performance at the Opera House, Manchester: Saturday 2nd April 2022.
For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.