Review: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ Palace Theatre, Manchester

TEAR-JERKER: Craig Chalmers

TEAR-JERKER: Craig Chalmers

First published in Stage Preston and Leyland Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Features writer

I wasn’t exactly in a ‘relaxed place’ for a night at the theatre, but, that’s one of the reasons I love a show - they have the power to make you believe all is well.

So as Tara Bethan took to the stage to open Joseph, I was hopeful.

She has a clarity and warmth to her voice, which made an ethereal Narrator work well.

‘Joe’ gets the attention, but the Narrator can be heavily overlooked: Scarcely leaving the stage, Bethan’s vocal had to cover gentle lullaby to rock n roll/soul belter.

At times the score stretched her range just beyond its best, particularly in the ‘Poor, poor Joseph...’ refrain. Overall, I enjoyed her performance.

I cannot say the same about our lead man. Craig Chalmers landed the role on the back of BBC’s Any Dream Will Do Joseph hunt, coming fifth and impressing judge Bill Kenwright enough to be cast for the tour which he has led since August 2007.

Chalmers by name, but not charming by nature I’m afraid... in fact, I wouldn’t have blamed the brothers for getting rid of Joseph properly instead of the fake death they report. Even in the pit of despair of tear-jerker Close Every Door To Me, I never felt sorry for him.

It came across that Chalmers believed his character’s hype. His voice was fine, but he utterly failed to move me in anyway beyond dislike.

A young, and going by the programme, largely inexperienced ensemble varied in its appeal. Occasionally lacking the oomph and polish expected of professionals, they came to life during the never-ending ‘megamix’.

The only ‘tingle’ I experienced was Henry Metcalfe’s Canaan Days - a seasoned pro, his voice was wonderful.

Love or loathe Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work, Joseph is a classic. It’s not showing its 40 years’ age, with a mix of styles, from calypso to Elvis rock via Parisian accordion and country. This blend is what makes Joseph endure - Lloyd Webber’s music and Tim Rice’s lyrics were my highlight - as a great music lesson for children. Kids in the audience seemed to enjoy it more than I did.

This is a rather panto-style production, and a bit cheap and cheerful (which particularly showed in the costumes), so maybe once the festive season kicks in it would work better.

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