Camp as a row of tents, cheesy as a bag of Wotsits, and as religiously irreverent as you get..
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat has stood the test of time, continually touring around the world and dosing audiences with its soaring and uplifting music and lyrics.
Those who dismiss Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s first ever publicly performed musical would be mistaken, this a powerful piece which may not as fashionable as some of the newer, supposedly edgier musicals complete with bells, whistles and ingenious stage-wizardry, but it is the blueprint for the best.
The story is based from a story in the Book of Genesis and is hardly saccharine in its subject matter if you see past the multi-coloured costumes and rousing ballads.
In the joy of the performance it is easy to forget the dark satire of the subject matter in front of you which – if you break it down – includes biblical themes including attempted murder, goat mutilation, sexual harassment, slavery, polygamy, execution and famine, not to mention cruelty to inflatable sheep.
The fact that all of this plays out in front of the talented bunch of singing children who remain on stage throughout shouldn’t work but it absolutely does, which is the key to Joseph’s success – it is utterly irrepressible in its humour and Monty Python-esque in its randomness.
This latest touring production of Joseph has made no attempt to re-invent the wheel.
It stars the former TV talent show winner Joe McElderry, whose utterly astonishing vocal range and yes, X-Factor, ensures you cannot take your eyes away from him, even before you realise all he’s wearing is a skirt as he’s flung about the stage.
His voice is almost too big for the stage – he really should be commanding stadiums with original material but that’s a tough gig to land.
And Joseph is an ensemble piece.
It really is tough to know which performer to concentrate on amid Henry Metcalfe’s energetic choreography.
The relatively small but talented cast, all play multiple roles with great energy and comedy. The story is pulled together by the other star of the show, the hard-working narrator, here played by Trina Hill whose soaring soprano voice rises above and commands the theatre audience.
Truly a fantastic performance with many stars, not least the child vocalists of Stagecoach Chester and Wirral. You are guaranteed to come away with a smile on your face.
Playing at Manchester Palace Theatre until October 21
Joe McElderry as Joseph