By BRUCE DENNILL
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat / Directed by Paul Warwick Griffin / Pieter Torien’s Montecasino Theatre, Fourways, Johannesburg
After Act 1 of this compact new production of the more enjoyable, slightly less irreverent of Webber and Rice’s Biblical musicals, it’s possible to deduce a couple of things. One, Joseph is a very short musical. Two, this version is spiked to give it extra appeal to younger audience members.
There’s its cast – young, fit and good-looking all – and its choreography, by Duane Alexander, which is non-stop and high energy to the extent that you’ll feel tired just watching everyone hitting their marks. And there’s it sex appeal, accentuated by Niall Griffin’s very carefully measured costumes (and inch less on some of the seams and it’d be more Hair’s Summer Of Love than Joseph’s seven years of lean and seven of fat). There have been some comments on the show in that regard; that it’s too raunchy and such. But the new look is in keeping with the rejuvenated arrangements of the piece and the youth-friendly (whether it was a thoughtful repositioning or an unexpected outcome) tone. That an occasional eyebrow will be raised when Potiphar (Dean Roberts) steps out looking like the MC from Cabaret and Mrs Potiphar (Mila De Biaggi) does a solid Victoria’s Secret audition is fair enough, and perhaps this excludes the very young from the target audience, but overall, it all hangs together.
The ensemble work is excellent, with the dance sequences and singing well-drilled and executed with panache. As the leads, Earl Gregory convinces on the singing front and is a greater mover at the front of the stage. Jonathan Roxmouth revels in the opportunities for innuendo and knowing self-indulgence, ignoring the fourth wall and raising the biggest laughs of the evening. Bianca Le Grange is an affable, cheery narrator, though she’s hamstrung to some degree by the keys in which her songs are set (the role was originally designed for a male voice), which require her to occasionally play safe and knock certain phrases down an octave, which makes them difficult to hear clearly.
Joseph is dippy and delirious, spicy and sharp. There will be harder-hitting productions, but this one is easy on the eye and ear, which is what it sets out to be.