On Monday, I surprised my partner with a trip to London – we spent the afternoon browsing shops (spending too much money in Forbidden Planet), getting absolutely drenched in a random thunderstorm and ended the evening with a trip to what accidentally became the opening night for the West End show Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.
When I booked the tickets, it was anticipated that June 21st would be when everything opened up again and theatres were generally reopening on July 1st… then it all got pushed back, so July 12th – the night of the tickets I’d booked – was opening night! The theatre was at half capacity (but full volume), all refreshments were ordered and served to the seats and my partner and I with our silly long legs (at 5’10” and 6’7″) could spread out a little without feeling squashed by other people – personally I prefer the socially distanced theatre experience but that’s not the point.
Joseph is my fiancé and I’s joint favourite musical (my personal favourite is Les Misérables) and we’ve been talking about going for ages, so I saw a great deal on TodayTix and decided to go for it! And with a stellar cast like Alexandra Burke as the Narrator and Jason Donovan (the original Joseph!) as The Pharoah, it was one I wasn’t prepared to miss!
From the opening notes I was (literally) jumping up and down in my seat – live music and being in a real theatre felt like such a luxury after such a long time away and being able to bring my partner to our first West End show together was incredibly exciting.
The whole atmosphere of the show was one of fun – Alexandra Burke’s Narrator had lots of funny little side lines and comments and she carried the role fantastically. When she first appeared in all black with glittery shoes I was a bit dubious – the show is one of the brightest there is, with ‘Technicolour’ literally being in the title! – but having her costume as such a stark contract meant she was always easy to spy on stage and… what can I say, the shoes were glittery!
For a show that is so brilliantly random – with pop songs, country songs, an Elvis tribute, a Parisian ballad and a Jamaican steel drum number – it’s one that would feel pretentious if taken too seriously, but the whole production understood that Joseph is a wonderfully ridiculous musical and they leant into it, with the children stepping into key roles such as Potiphar, the Cook and the Butler was a really sweet touch and really funny, they all had such wonderful comedic timing.
And musical timing! The dance sequences in this show were actually so good, my marketing brain thought about putting them on tiktok because they were relatively simple but looked really effective when everyone was doing them so in sync. However, I have to shoutout the tap dance break in the middle of ‘One More Angel’ because they did tap dancing! I’m a sucker for tap and seeing it used in a commercial musical alongside lots of different styles was amazing (can someone get me a pair of tap sandals please?).
I also have to mention the Can Can sequence in Those Canaan Days – I won’t spoil it, but yes, I mean the Can Can sequence in Those Canaan Days.
To go with fantastic dance sequences, the set design was incredibly clever – from using lights to make the stage look like sand, the centre circles that raised in parts above the stage and dropped below the stage too, camels that were moved by pedal bikes and, the true highlight; the set for Pharoah’s scenes.
Jason Donovan, the man himself, is carried onto stage on a wonderful throne – the stage is lit in gold, there’s pillars of an Egyptian temple on the back wall of the stage, the centre circle is fully raised and statues of Anubis (the dog man) and Ra (the hawk man) are mid stage left and right (with electric guitars that slide in and out from side of stage and rotating heads with puppet mouths that sing along as backing to the Pharoah) and best of all… A Vegas esque sign that read something along the lines of ‘Welcome to Fabulous Egypt’ – flashing lights and all! The whole thing was so over the top in the most brilliantly tongue in cheek way and it was fantastic.
What more can I say? I need to give a special mention to the 10 amazing children that performed on opening night – I always have a weakness for children singing (the performance in the Nativity movie always makes me well up), children singing harmonies always blows me away but the girls in Close Every Door were just fantastic, as was Jac Yarrow as Joseph – he has such a perfectly pure tone and the passion he put in to the end of the song was just magical, I got goosebumps.
The whole experience was fantastic – to be in a theatre after 16 months of COVID-19 restrictions feeling safe and welcomed, in a show where the cast was having just as much fun as the audience and to only pay £6 for a programme?! All round, it was a fantastic evening. I can’t wait to spend as much time as possible at the theatre this year – the atmosphere of live musical performance is just second to none.
Thank you for reading,