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Byline: by Catherine Jones

IT'S 30 years since I first saw Joseph, and the show has certainly got a lot more glitzy since then.

Three years ago, Bill Kenwright brought day-glo Darren Day's cocky Canaan to the Empire.

And while this latest touring production is star-lite, it still generates a crowd-pleasing amount of razzle dazzle.

Kenwright's Joseph this time around is clean-cut newcomer Jonathan Parkin, making his professional theatre debut.

He is bright-eyed and eager enough, if a little on the bland side, and has a habit of swallowing both the words and notes during guiet passages, most noticeably in an opening version of Joseph's Coat.

However, one of the best things about this particular show is watching the new boy visibly grow and settle into his own groove.

As the evening progresses he develops his stage presence, proving he can belt out the big numbers with the best of them and finishing in triumphant mode in the musical's overblown but infectious finale.

But while Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's trippy tale - full as it is of psychedelic colours, talking camels and Elvis impersonators-centres around Joseph, there are others who get a big slice of the action too.

Eleven of them are Joseph's brothers, who get fed up with their father Jacob (a truly Old Testament-looking Henry Metcalfe who also choreographs the show) favouring the little prig and sell him into slavery.

It's certainly a hot topic in Liverpool this year.

The brothers' best number is a plaintive Those Canaan Days.

Meanwhile Marlon Moore's Egyptian Elvis generates screams as he curls his lip and shakes his hips Vegas-style in the Pharaoh's Story.

His physical performance is a roaring success, but the song's lyrics are so blurred he could be singing about hamburgers and Graceland.

When Joseph tells him "I didn't understand all the words" he is spot on.

The revue structure with its disparate numbers, from French pastiche to calypso and hillbilly, is held in place by the narrator.

With regular Harriet Shore ill, Amanda Claire has stepped in and she gives a solid, sweet-voiced performance, backed by youngsters from Liverpool's Performers Theatre School.


8/10 Feast and famine
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 6, 2007
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