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Happiness is catching as Joseph spreads its gloom-defying joy

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

The ultimate happy clappy musical has been on its gloom-defying tour for what seems like forever and a day and I can only say three cheers for that.

Having seen the show and submitted myself to its purgative properties, I am in no position to gripe about anything ever again – much!

Seriously, I really do like this show. It is the jolliest telling of an Old Testament tale that you can possibly imagine and it took the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to see its joyous potential.

Actually, it was a budding genius back in the 1960s when Joseph first started to take shape as a short school production. By the time it was fully fledged, Jesus Christ Superstar was already on the scene. Many – notably in America – called that show blasphemous. In South Africa it was banned.

But Joseph, starting from humble origins, seems to have won friends from the start with its medley of musical styles and relentlessly upbeat tone. The line “Poor, poor Joseph, what’cha gonna do?” is about as miserable as it gets – and even that makes you smile.

The songs are so catchy they’re like a virus.

And as for the sets and costumes, well, the title alone is licence for all who work in those departments to cast subtlety to the wind and let rip. Imagine an oasis, Las Vegas style. Imagine the Pharoah as Elvis.

As Joseph, the dreamer in an unfeasibly large family of brothers, Ian ‘H’ Watkins from Steps follows in a long line of clean-cut stars.

The most notable thing about him is a haircut so neat that it would delight any doting mum or head teacher. In the Old Testament it would probably have got him stoned – and not in the hippy sense.

All the cast sing nicely – and loudly, of course, this being a pop production reliant on amplification – and so does the children’s choir whose confidence impressed me.

The sheer energy of all the performers impressed me also. They are doing this three times a day in Newcastle. THREE times! They must lose pounds. Forget coats. I bet they all dream of pasta and chocolate.

David Whetstone

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