Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash-hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat storms onto the New Theatre Royal stage this week in Bill Kenwright's touring production. Featuring Joe McElderry, the musical masterpiece firmly showcases the New Theatre Royal and does very little to disappoint.
Loosely telling the Biblical "Coat of Many Colours" story from Genesis, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is a firm family favourite many will remember from childhood. Watching Bill Kenwright's production at the New Theatre Royal, it is not very difficult to see why.
In this piece, we watch Daddy's favourite son Joseph get outcast by his brothers, largely driven by their jealous feelings towards his coat of many colours. They sell him to a life of slavery in Egypt, and the show follows his overcoming of this, in the most family-friendly way.
Joseph is a slick powerhouse of vibrancy, colour and catchy musical numbers from start to finish. It has incredible pace, largely gained from the lack of spoken dialogue and the well-rehearsed set piece movements. It's a theatrical masterpiece of stylised storytelling; you'll feel you are watching a children's storybook come to life.
Joe McElderry, 2009 winner of The X Factor, is an outstanding choice for Joseph. He moves from light-hearted fun in Any Dream Will Do to emotive powerhouse in Close Every Door with ease. His voice is strong, powerful and his performance energetic. Most essentially, he easily gains the support of the audience from the beginning. This truly is Joseph's story, and McElderry sells it well - he is instantly likeable.
Also of note is Lucy Kay as Narrator. She provides a spectacular vocal quality which matches, and sometimes even tops, McElderry's. She firmly steers the story and takes the audience by the hand throughout. It's a masterstroke of writing and directing to have her so omnipresent throughout.
There are strong performances from the ensemble too. The eleven brothers are incredibly strong; Ben James-Ellis exhibits excellent comic timing as Pharaoh and The Centre Stage Academy of Theatre Arts, who provide the supporting children, ably support the cast. The choir do not leave the stage throughout the entire show, exhibiting incredible stage discipline for those so young.
Overall, if you can bring yourself to forgive the odd surrealism of Act II - which prompts you to wonder if someone spiked your drink in the interval - this show is tremendous fun. It's almost guaranteed to have you dancing in the aisles and singing as you leave.
If any show we've seen is going to put the new, New Theatre Royal on the map it's this one. Don't miss it. This is the dream which will more than do.
Until Saturday 4th March.