Just as Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s initial audience was aimed at primary school kids the 20-strong on-stage choir is made up of children. The production benefits from Sean Cavanagh’s design which is full of WOW!-factor rather like the show’s X-Factor star Joe McElderry. While he may never stand comparison with Jason Donovan in the 1991 production, McElderry really gives it all he has got (which is quite a lot) with a powerfully sustained vocal performance and some dance ability too.
But it is his fit physique which makes Joseph a ladies’ night though there is plenty of eye cand for the boys too in the all-singing all-dancing ensemble. This is a Bill Kenwright show in its 36th year which makes it the longest running touring show in history. There is a skilful blending of musical forms from gentle pop ballads to French chansons and real rock’n’roll. The latter is a highlight of the show with a great Presley impersonation by Pharaoh Emilianos Stamatakis for Song of the King.
Henry Metcalfe’s choreography is suitable cheeky suiting the camp style that also breaks through into deep melodrama. Lucy King has the enviable role of Narrator and really makes it all her own with a warm tenderness. We all know the Rice/Webber musical is a smash hit but it is great to see it take hold of a regional stage like the Leeds Grand and turn on it sheer magic.
Reviewed by Rich Jevons at Leeds Grand Theatre on 22nd March 2016. Touring nationally, see http://www.josephthemusical.com/uktour/gallery/uk-tour/