JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
DIRECTOR: Paul Warwick Griffin
CAST: Earl Gregory, Bianca le Grange, Jonathan Roxmouth, Dean Roberts (resident director), Mila de Biaggi, and the ensemble of Joseph’s brothers and the adoring girls
VENUE: Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino
UNTIL: August 7
RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
Diane de Beer
It’s the colourful explosion of creativity that excites in this theatrical and risk-taking re-invention of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
One of musical theatre’s evergreens, always sold as perfect family fare, it has, over the years, lost some of its lustre and was begging for a reboot.
Bring in the Bonsai boys: Griffin and Charl-Johan Lingenvelder, to deliver the genius goods. And in this instance, again, they do, gloriously so and on many unexpected levels.
That’s their magic; they have no fear and a musical sensibility that is extraordinary and supercharged with this production. Every note of music was different even though the melody line remains untouched. With a generous bouquet of genres, usually in one song, they take you on an adventurous musical journey – both in solo and ensemble, with the instrumental introductions and interludes together with multimedia and spectacular lighting (Gareth Hewitt Williams) magnificently setting every scene and determining the dramatic impetus and impact.
Enhancing the shine, there’s the sassy choreography (Duane Alexander) which sashays into another realm to the African-tinged props all playing out on Denis Hutchinson’s innovative set which allows a kaleidoscopic imagination a marvellous landscape to play with.
The costumes (Niall Griffin) complete the sensual onslaught with an edgy playfulness that adds to the characters’ narrative.
Casting is genius with a second bite for Gregory more than a decade on and he brings it on in different shades. He has gained in depth of performance and cements his star quality as he nails all of those iconic numbers including Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do with a quiet intensity that’s breathtaking.
Le Grange as the rather ditsy narrator is an inspired choice and Roxmouth an obvious and winning pick as the show-stopping Pharaoh. Because of his magnetic prowess on stage, he can be pushed in any direction as he adopts a hysterically funny hangdog Elvis while playing the audience chum, yet still swinging the power baton.
The ensemble bring all the trimmings with a number of star turns, among them a heightened Benjamin Calypso by a stunning Calvyn Grandling who rockets this one into the stratosphere. And there are many of those. But tying it all together, it is Griffin and his vision, his smartly picked team and a sense of fun whether they are at play or taking some scenes seriously.
The choice of how to play every scene and the musical landscape explored visually and musically, the push of a power-grabbing society with some contemporary visual gags just to complete the cyclical narrative which has your mind spinning, are all underscored by the rhythms that keep you rocking.
What he has achieved is to create something that tunes into the younger cool crowd which will have theatre management smiling, while also capturing the hearts of the musically adventurous – all of this with the much-loved but seriously on its way to drifting-into-drab Joseph.
That’s how you reinvent. What a brilliant production.
It’s a Joseph of our times.