Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Everyman, Cheltenham
PUBLISHED: 16:17 06 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:41 06 February 2015
Darren Bell Photography
Of course Joseph's mother was a girl from the Taff Bargoed Valley, realises Katie Jarvis, who loved every single second of the Everyman performance
Now, I don’t know the truth of the matter, so I’m not here to judge. But the story doing the rounds goes like this. X Factor star Marcus Collins was meant to be narrator in the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but he never showed up to rehearsals. My story goes like this. I went last night to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, appearing at the Everyman as part of the UK tour, and Rebekah Lowings was the narrator. And she was amazing!
Look, I’ve no idea who she is. And, no, I don’t think she’s ever appeared movingly on X Factor (“So my dog died, who used to howl whenever I sang, and that’s why I’m here tonight, Simon”). But I utterly loved her performance.
In fact, I loved all of it. Lloyd Daniels – who really was on X Factor – was the most adorable Joseph. OK, I admit it; I was perplexed for all of 10 seconds by the Welsh accent. But in the 11th second, I realised that the bit they haven’t translated yet of the Qumran Caves Scrolls of course revealed that Joseph’s mother was a girl from the Taff Bargoed Valley - “Looking for love in or around the Canaan area. No smoker, good sense of humour, prefer to be one of 10 wives or fewer,” – making Lloyd just perfect for the role. That and the gorgeous singing voice.
Let’s face it, we’ve been captivated by many-an-adaptation of Biblical stories, from the great Cecil B DeMille’s epic The Ten Commandments, to the even greater Woody Allen’s sensitive retelling of the Old Testament, “And the Lord produced two stone tablets and snapped them closed on Job’s nose… And soon Job’s pastures dried up and his tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth so he could not pronounce the word frankincense without getting big laughs.” But none is greater than Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s much-loved musical, originally written for a school performance. How a man who never seems truly to smile, coupled (not in the Biblical sense) with a man I’ve rarely heard of outside a cricketing context could produce a musical of such humour and style is, frankly, puzzling. But I’ve never yet seen a production of Joseph that I haven’t absolutely loved (apart from an American version I accidentally stumbled over on the internet which was shocking) (and apart from the fact that ‘Technicolor’ is spelt without a ‘u’. What’s that all about, then?). From the first second, Ian had to strap me to my seat to stop me launching onto the stage with the cast and joining in. By the end of it, even the theatre ushers were singing.
It’s hard to single others out because the whole cast was great – and we were delighted to see the ‘Stagecoach Cheltenham’ children in the choir, of course. And, yes, OK, there were those early-tour moments, such as when a dancer launched herself at a brother, downing him like a skittle, which must have surprised them both. Or the other brother who got the dreamcoat in the wrong hands during the final rainbow scene, rendering it more reminiscent of an Eastbourne deckchair caught in a particularly strong gale. But, by that point, we (a truly multi-generational audience) were so on-board that we were prepared to believe even this was a genuine minor mishap as chronicled in Genesis.
I dare you not to love it; I dare you not to sing along; I dare you not to clap, even if – as Ian did – you manage the solo offbeat of every single song.
But – listen to this - I tweeted Rebekah my congratulations – and she tweeted me back. And then Alfred Bache, one of the wonderful Joseph brothers (“I shall now take them all for a ride. After all they have tried fratricide” tra la) followed me. Result.
• The Everyman Theatre is at Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1HQ, box office 01242 572573; www.everymantheatre.org.uk
• Joseph... at the Everyman runs Tuesday, February 3 to Sunday, February 8