S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

On the train into central London on Friday, I started reading one of this week's library book collection, Charlotte Brontë's The Foundling. It's a work of juvenalia, written when she was seventeen, in which wacky, silly, and improbably lucky things happen at a fast clip. The hero goes off to foreign land, looking for his fortune, when he's suddenly imprisoned for not knowing the customs. He's kept locked up for what feels like a long time (15 days) until he's suddenly released with great fortune succeeding to him.

So then, not very far along in the book, I arrived in central London, met up with C. and M. for dinner and a long-awaited trip to see Lee Mead, winner of last year's Any Dream will Do, perform the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lloyd Webber was seventeen when he first hooked up with collaborator Tim Rice, and three years later, Joseph was first staged. It's a wacky, silly musical about an improbably lucky guy who goes off to foreign lands (albeit having been sold into slavery by brothers who couldn't stand his happy-go-luckiness), where he's suddenly imprisoned for not fitting in with expectations. He's kept locked up for what feels like a long time until he's suddenly released with great fortune succeeding to him.

The worst bit about the production was the sound system. I treasure minor hopes that the singers were decent ones, fighting a bad sound system. It's possible that all the singers were poor. I know Lee Mead can do better, for one, although even he wasn't trying all that hard when he came out for the Mamma Mia* portion at the end. I could hardly decipher a word of the Pharoah's two songs; indeed, for all he even had a reprise of his dream song, I could not tell you the content of Pharoah's dream based on what he sang. The leads were all over-enunciating, an effect which helps projected consonants when there isn't much of a sound system, but was magnified into distracting noise by this one.

The most delightful surprise was the children's choir, under-advertised, but present, on stage, for nearly the entirety of the musical. I also quite liked the procession of sheep. Also, the songs really are, by and large, a great deal of fun, especially when the lyrics are decipherable. The dancing had its moments too, high energy, with frequently psychedelic costumes. The costumes, although they suited the songs, just drove home even more what a wacky piece of juvenalia the show itself is.

London quotient: It's been fascinating watching the London Eye gradually replacing the Big Ben clock tower as the iconic symbol of modern London. Yes, the London Eye made a brief appearance in the production.

I'm glad I went, since we'd all been curious about it for so long. But the production, as a whole, wasn't that much more than just okay.

* i.e. the now almost-inevitable singalong at the end of West End musicals. I'm not certain I'd ever encountered it before Mamma Mia (where it makes some sort of sense) and thus I've been blaming that musical for the phenomenon.
Tags: musicals
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