It's no good for you, this Joseph. Sickly sanguine and sacrilegious, Andrew Lloyd Webber's biblical musical has never been quite as camp as this. Or, guiltily, as much fun.
Brisbane's Harvest Rain Theatre Company has sold out its spacious new venue, QPAC's Playhouse, for the full run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Few are likely to be disappointed.
A company that aims to make theatre accessible has injected the pop back into Joseph, the second collaboration and first hit from Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. More concert spectacular than musical performance, this is a toe-tapping, sing-along Joseph mega-mix in the gaudy, cracked-smiles tradition of high school Rock Eisteddfod.
Joseph was always a frivolous mix of musical styles and pop culture in-jokes, with an Elvis-inspired rockin' Pharaoh, go-go dancing disco, Deep South hillbilly country, 1920s swing, French ballads and Caribbean calypso. Harvest Rain Artistic Director Tim O'Connor and Choreographer Callum Mansfield take it up a notch with a frenetic all-singing, all-dancing explosion of sequins and
back flips, as vibrant and colourful as it is instantly forgettable (except for those damn songs, which you'll never be able to get out of your head).
The plot is hardly important, universally familiar and heathenishly unfaithful to the biblical tale anyway. (Intuitive Joseph is sold to Egyptian slavery and left for dead by his jealous brothers, only to win over the pelvis-thrusting King with his dream-reading ability and accept the forgiveness of his family, excreta.) But as a platform for some show-stopping numbers, it works a treat.
The Playhouse stage is crowded with shiny, beaming young things, including a 12-strong band, dozens of kids up well past their bedtime, and some of the sweetest, wannabe-star voices in Queensland. The giddy enthusiasm is infectious and had the first-night crowd of adoring family and well-wishers out of their seats for a finale that just about blew the speakers. There was a lot of love in the room.
Jordan Pollard, a teenage prodigy from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with a made-for-television face and 24-carat smile, is irresistibly charming as Joseph. His trained voice rises above the massive choir and imperfect audio production to barely crack with nerves. The technicolour coat fits like a glove.
As the chameleon Narrator, Harvest Rain regular Angela Cornford brings the pouting sex appeal with a versatile and stunning set of pipes that, like her legs, just don't quit. And "special guest" Michael Falzon, who last came to QPAC as the manic transsexual Hedwig with the Angry Inch to deliver a jaw-dropping performance, has a lot of fun with the gyrating, blue suede shoe-wearing Pharaoh.
Most of the cast is given their moment to shamelessly hog the spotlight - and boy do they grab it with both hands. There's more hams here than the butcher at Christmas, but they're all, seemingly, having the time of their lives.
Which is very hard to resist, in the way good, wholesome community theatre should be. Well done to all.
Harvest Rain Theatre Company presents
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director Tim O’Connor
Venue: Playhouse Theatre, QPAC
Season: 18th - 22nd March 2009
Times: Weds to Sat at 8pm / Sat matinee at 2pm / Sun at 1pm & 6.30pm
Running Time: 2 hours including interval
Bookings: www.qtix.com.au or 136 246