Let me level with you. I haven’t read the bible. Nor do I have any intention of adding the “good book” to my overflowing bookshelves anytime soon. I have however always been fascinated by the concept, especially the Old Testament fire and brimstone narratives, and so I entered Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with very little expectations and not even a rough idea of the plot.
Unfortunately, my non-existent expectations were unable to be met by this absolute sham of a production. Within a two-hour timespan, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat managed to upset, offend and at very least annoy. The over-the-top razzle dazzle production featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice has to be one of their weaker collaborations.
Based on the story of Joseph in Genesis, the Narrator (Paulini) leads a flock of children through the tale of Joseph, the most handsome, talented, and favoured son, who after receiving the aforementioned Technicolor Dreamcoat from his father is tricked by his brothers and sold into slavery due to their jealousy.
For anyone who has read the Old Testament, or has even the smallest knowledge of Christianity, this story is a classic tale of suffering and forgiveness. For everyone else, we were lost. At least the sumptuous sets were a sparkling colourful delight. Created by Morgan Large, these bright, glittering, and lavish pieces are absolutely stunning, alongside his gorgeous costumes, they quite literally set the scene for a glorious adventure.
Euan Fistrovic Doidge is the star of this production, giving the role of Joseph every ounce of his being. His vocal tone is perfectly suited to the role, and he lends a legitimate voice to the cast. Fistrovic Doidge manages to maintain the balance between sincerity and sexy and is the WD-40 that keeps this show moving.
Joined by Australian Idol alumni Paulini in her role as the Narrator, Paulini’s vocals are undoubtably top notch, but the pacing of Lloyd Webber’s score and Tim Rice’s lyrics seems slightly out of her reach as she struggles to keep up with the duo’s notoriously difficult book. Giving it her very best Beyonce, Paulini is an absolutely stunning vocalist, and I would love to see her in a more sultry laid-back role, rather than the ever-moving Narrator (amongst other characters) in charge of a small tribe of children.
Speaking of children, the chorus of young people are sweet and take on a large part of the production, providing warmth and innocence.
And now, let us speak of the King of Egypt, the Pharoah himself, Shane Crawford, ex-footballer who caused controversy when announced as the Pharoah earlier in the year. Breaking it down there are two main reasons Crawford should never have been cast in this role:
- He is a white presenting man
- He is a footballer, NOT a Musical Theatre performer
While the entertainment industry prepared to tear him apart, I (naively) hoped that Crawford was hoarding a secret talent and that his casting wasn’t purely a publicity stunt. Unfortunately, Crawford is most definitely a footballer and not a musical theatre performer. He cannot sing, dance, or act, and the simple fact of including him in this cast is an insult to all those who have trained in the performing arts, suffered through years of lockdowns, career uncertainty and sacrifices. I am appalled at his inclusion in this production, and not even the reimagined Las Vegas styled number could save him as he mumbled and stumbled his way through the number.
Those who made up the ensemble did their absolute best with the material, battling through some questionable choices, for example the cheerleading number at the end of act one felt like they had a lot of leftover dancers from Bring it On! The Musical. Even the Vegas styled Egyptian court was confusing, and this production felt like it never really knew where it was or what it was doing.
What’s more the ensemble of mostly white presenting females who at first did some sort of “sexy dance” in hijabs and later returned as “Egyptians” in braided black wigs was more infuriating than entertaining.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is an entirely tone-deaf production that takes the concept of cultural appropriation to new levels of cringe and offensiveness.
There were a few moments of greatness in this dark production, Fistrovic Doidge was wonderful in the role, and I can’t wait to see where his career takes him (hopefully to bigger and better things), Paulini is a glorious vocalist and Joseph’s eleven brothers were funny, clever, and fully embodied the notion of “triple threat.”
Unfortunately, these things were not enough to save a show that is so out of touch that it is truly difficult to stomach. If you like pantomime maybe you’ll enjoy it, you’ll just have to get past the terrible moments of cultural insensitivity and disgraceful miscasting of Crawford.
Tim Lawson in association with Michael Harrison and The Really Useful Group present
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director Laurence Connor
Venue: Regent Theatre | Collins Street, Melbourne VIC
Dates: from 13 November 2022
Tickets: from $59