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Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Sunderland Empire

A Fabulous Welcome For Joe

Bill Kenwright by special arrangement with the Really Useful Group presents
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Sunderland Empire
Until Saturday 4th June 2016

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice

Bill Kenwright directs a tight production of the popular biblical musical which had a packed Sunderland Empire on its feet in celebration. Local lad Joe McElderry has opportunity to show he is a class act, whilst Lucy Kay and Emilianos Stamatakis also shine with their vocal ability. Add memorable songs into the mix and you have an audience that leaves feeling very happy.

Joseph was one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first collaborations with lyricist Tim Rice. The story follows the tale in the first book of the bible, Genesis, about Jacob (Henry Metcalfe) who had many sons. His favourite son is Joseph (Joe McElderry) for whom he buys a magnificent coat. His jealous brothers decide that Joseph has to go. Initially they plan to kill him, but in the end they sell him as a slave. The brothers inform their father that poor Joseph is dead when, in fact, he is heading off to Egypt.  The story then follows Joseph as he tries to make the most of the situation.

Unlike some musicals, the story comes from the lyrics rather than spoken parts between the songs. The bulk of this comes from the very capable Lucy Kay as the narrator. The former Britain’s Got Talent finalist has a number one classical album under her belt. Her vocal skill was simply stunning. Her powerful and yet controlled voice for a real highlight of the show.

Joe McElderrry is a big attraction in his own right.  Joseph gives him a vehicle to show both his vocal talent, in songs like Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do, and his acting skills.  The popular lad didn’t put a foot wrong as he entertained his many fans.

The other stat vocal contribution came from the King himself as Emilianos Stamatakis described his dream to Joseph in the style of Elvis Presley. Here lies the success of the musical and helps explain why it still attracts large audiences after 40 years – the show doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Numerous laughs are scattered throughout the production.

Designer Sean Cavanagh has created a set which has 2 set of stairs and enable the audience to have a good view of over 30 members of the  young Joseph Choir provided by Northern Star Theatre Arts. This well behaved group added an angelic quality to the songs that they performed in.

Underpinning the whole show is a tight live band, under musical director Kelvin Towse, and a supporting cast of brothers and handmaidens.

Is the musical too cheesy or dated for 2016? Was the set drawn out to make the show, at 125 minutes, longer than it needed to be? Perhaps so, but some of us like our dated cheese!

Joseph is an entertaining family show which will make an ideal half term treat. Joe McElderry and Lucy Kay are both strong vocalists with warm personalities that the audiences love. The show concludes with a Joseph Megamix that had the audience up dancing at the end.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or *calls cost 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.

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