REVIEW: MUSICAL Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Byline: St Helens Theatre Royal By JANET TANSLEY ECHO Writer firstname.lastname@example.org @JanetTansley
THERE may be one more angel in Heaven, but there's certainly one more star in the sky.
X-Factor finalist Joe McElderry plays the title role in this evergreen musical and - in the words of his mentor, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini - the South Shields lad absolutely smashed it.
His pop career might not have taken off with the same rocket force as the act he beat in the TV talent show (a certain someone called Olly Murs) but young Joe - he's still only 24 - has proven himself to be a polished all-rounder, acting with ease and confidence - not easy when you're following in the footsteps of huge names like Donny Osmond and Jason Donovan.
It is 46 years old this year but Joseph remains a crowd-puller and pleaser, attracting packed audiences who know the words almost as well as the cast.
And Joe breathed even new life into this middle-aged musical which retells the Biblical tale of Joseph, 12th and favourite son of Jacob, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His voice was solid and silken and, simply, faultless, rendering Close Every Door possibly the best version I have ever heard.
It is still hard to imagine how a huge stage production like this can fit into cosy regional theatres like St Helens, but, far from seeming squashed, it fills the stage and takes advantage of its proximity to the audience, offering a feeling of involvement which goes beyond the usual encouragement of a hand-clap.
The scenery and lighting, as usual, were stunning, the costumes, well, colourful! And the sound seemed to bounce off the walls, enhancing favourites like Close Every Door, Those Canaan Days and, of course, Any Dream Will Do.
Fellow talent show contestant Lucy Kay, who finished as runner-up in last year's Britain's Got Talent, was a stunning narrator. She struggled to get some of the highest notes on occasion, but this is a role that demands constant presence and a versatile vocal, stringing together the scenes which vary in musical style from country to calypso and good old rock and roll, and she handled it well.
Emilianos Stamatakis is making his UK debut in the role of Pharaoh and he certainly left the audience all shook up with his exaggerated Elvis-inspired performance of the Egyptian king. Not even a technical hiccup which brought the show to a standstill for five minutes in the middle of his performance put him off his hipswivelling stride.
Joseph is expertly choreographed and injected with a tongue-in-cheek humour that never seems to tire. With such a longrunning production, credit has to be given to creators Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who were certainly ahead of their time.
A middle-aged musical but now with new life breathed into it - the cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on stage
A crowd-puller and a crowd pleaser - Henry Metcalfe and Joe McElderry in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Pictures: MARK YEOMAN