Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
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Previewed 6 July 2007, Opened 17 July 2007, Closed 30 May 2009 at the Adelphi Theatre in London.
A majar revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic family musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
"A heavenly triumph" The London Evening Standard
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat retells the biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and his coat of many colours and is full of unforgettable songs including 'Any Dream Will Do', 'Close Ev'ry Door To Me' and 'One More Angel'.
"It fizzes with energy" The Financial Times
Gareth Gates is scheduled to perform the role of 'Joseph' from Monday 9 February 2009 to Saturday 23 May 2009. Ricky Rojas will play 'Joseph' from Monday 25 May 2009 to Saturday 30 May 2009.
Gareth Gates is making his West End debut starring as Joseph. Gareth was runner-up in the first ever Pop Idol in 2002 since when he has had four number one singles and sold 3.5 million records to date. During 2008 Gareth appeared in ITV1's Dancing on Ice and went on to participate in the Dancing on Ice UK Tour. All casting is subject to change.
"A sure-fire hit all over again" The Daily Telegraph
"This early Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice show is a poppy, popup, rainbow-coloured, musical Sunday-school story. The sphinxes' eyes roll, but by today's standards, this revival of Steven Pimlott's 1991 hit is technologically unsophisticated and charmingly old-fashioned. Lloyd Webber's score has great fun parodying musical genres, from country-andwestern, French ballads, disco, to rock'n'roll. And Rice's lyrics have wit and bounce. As cheesy as it's corny, it's an unapologetically feelgood confection. Go, go, go; expect delight, but no surprises." The Mail on Sunday
"A just reminder of how talented Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber are" The Daily Express
"Tuneful, charismatic, endearing, Lee Mead is a faultless Joseph - at once a torso-flashing pretty boy and serious West End player... At the very end, as Mead is raised triumphantly on a platform into the heavens and his coat of many colours extends in a waterfall sweep, the crowd leaps to its feet to give a deserved standing ovation. Deserved because Joseph is a triumph - funny, slick, camp, and the most entertaining couple of hours I've spent inside a theatre for a long time..." The Observer
"You chuckle all over again at Rice's lyrics, the best of their type since WS Gilbert's... Lloyd Webber's masterly magpie pastiches of reggae, rock'n'roll, even French accordion music, sound as fresh and funny as ever." The Sunday Times
Andrew Lloyd Webber says: "The character of Joseph is very difficult to cast. He has to be nauseatingly gorgeous so you understand why the brothers throw him in the pit and we have to be convinced of the journey he goes on and the value of forgiveness. It's a tough call." - The role of 'Joseph' was choosen by the public through the BBC TV programme Any Dream Will Do which was broadcast on Saturday evenings from 31 March to 9 June 2007 and was won by Lee Mead who played the lead role 'Joseph' up to 10 January 2009.
Joseph in London at the Adelphi Theatre previewed from 6 July 2007, opened on 17 July 2007 and closed on 30 May 2009.
Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the New London Theatre: Previewed 13 February 2003, opened 3 March 2003, closed 3 September 2005
A brand new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic family musical Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London, produced and directed by Bill Kenwright. Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat retells the biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and his coat of many colours and is full of unforgettable songs including 'Any Dream Will Do', 'Close Ev'ry Door To Me' and 'One More Angel'. Starring Stephen Gately up to 13 September 2003.
"A bottle of pure theatrical pop, it was first uncorked 35 years ago and hasn't lost its fizz" The Daily Express
"This enchanting musical explodes like a glittering fireworks at a funfair. Joesph is a gem. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first collaboration is still one of their best: it combines warmth, energy, deep feeling and sly, infectious humour... The producer, Bill Kenwright, directs the show himself, something few other producers could do, and he turns it into a brilliant celebration of words, music and colour. Sean Cavanagh's designs are a visual feast, imposing, but also tongue-in-cheek... This is the best kind of feelgood show: unashamed, warm-hearted and irresistible." The Sunday Times
"Enormously enjoyable - this Joseph is done with terrific, over-the-top style" The Guardian
"Directed by Bill Kenwright and designed by Sean Cavanagh, the new staging is bright and cheerful. It features basic Egyptian motifs supplemented by comic pop-up sheep and children's choirs seated on either side of the stage. Rice's lyrics bounce along and Lloyd Webber's tunes are among his catchiest; pastiche remains the order of the day, with a French chanson (berets, a rope of onions) giving way to a calypso (lots of ruffles) and country and western treading on the heels of rock'n' roll." The Sunday Telegraph
"A wonderfully warm-hearted, scenically lavish and deliriously droll revival" The Independent
"Here it is again, the most genuinely popular of all the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, and the first fruit of his historic collaboration with Tim Rice back in 1968, almost 35 years ago to the day. But what a wonderful and fabulous concoction this was, and remains, as Bill Kenwright's production proves... With former Boyzone star Stephen Gately as Joseph, you sense the whole freshness of pop and rock music of the time bending to a new-age theatrical musical... Tim Rice's lyrics are brilliant, Cole Porter-ish in their careful wordiness; but especially, you note, here was a score of eclectic, super-talented theatricality: and so it proved!" The Daily Mail
Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London at the New London Theatre previewed from 13 February 2003, opened on 3 March 2003 and closed on closed 3 September 2005=== he Daily Telegraph: A still amazing Dreamcoat Daily Telegraph, The (London, England) - Tuesday, March 4, 2003 Author: CHARLES SPENCER Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat NEW LONDON THEATRE RARELY can such a huge, money-spinning success have started with such modest ambitions. Though Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber already had their eye on the West End in 1968, the West End didn't have its eye on them, so they wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for an end-of-term performance at a London prep school. The pop critic Derek Jewel had a child at Colet Court, and when the 25-minute show transferred for a one-off performance at the Central Hall, Westminster, he gave it a rave review in the national press. Prep school drama teachers must have been dreaming of such a break ever since. The show subsequently became an LP, but didn't receive its first professional production until 1972 when the Young Vic took it to the Edinburgh Festival. Extra numbers were added in subsequent outings, and the show has now been spreading a little happiness for more than 30 years. In this latest revival it still seems fresh as paint. Rice and Lloyd Webber may have gone on to bigger things, but I don't think either of them have ever done anything better than this. Every song is instantly, infuriatingly memorable. The tone is light, indeed at times downright infantile (it was after all originally written for kids), and the whole improbable enterprise of a pop musical based on the Bible is blessed with the exuberance of youth. As a lyricist, Tim Rice often walks a precarious line between wit and bathos, but here wit wins. When he's asked to interpret Pharaoh's dream, for instance, Joseph sings: "All these things you saw in your pyjamas/Are a long range forecast for your farmers." Cole Porter would have smiled on that. Lloyd Webber's gifts for memorable melody are splendidly to the fore, as is his magpie knack for pastiche. With the help of Rice's words, maudlin country and western, French chanson, calypso and rock'n'roll are all gleefully sent up. But the piece also reveals Lloyd Webber's distinctive gifts for the floridly emotional showstopper in Close Every Door, and for exuberant uplift in Any Dream Will Do. The show isn't perfect. The story of Joseph , his furious brothers and his trials in Egypt is a thin one, and at two hours this Biblical musical often seems like a great collection of songs in search of a decent book. And if you aren't in the right mood, its relentless jauntiness could give you a terrible headache. The impresario Bill Kenwright directs this revival himself with exuberant relish. Sean Cavanagh's kitsch Egyptian designs recall a lurid ballroom or picture palace of the 1920s, and the energy level of the young cast, backed by a chorus of school kids, leaves you breathless. The diminutive former Boyzone singer Stephen Gately plays the title role, and though he evidently fancies himself something rotten, it's not an enthusiasm I find myself able to share. Though his voice is OK, his attempts at cheeky charm left me cold. Far from being winning, he often seems sly and ferrety. Trevor Jary has a ball, though, as the Elvis-like Pharaoh, a dead ringer for the King in his 1968 comeback special, singing up a storm, and thrusting his pelvis to the manner born. There are also lively dance routines from the brothers, an attractive narrator in Vivienne Carlyle, and a delightfully sexy trio of handmaidens who should go down very well with the dads. The final reprise of almost every song in the show, with Joseph appearing in at least three different coats of many colours, is like an interminable karaoke night from hell, but it's a small price to pay for an evening of real pleasure. === Nice and cosy don't quite do it - Theatre Times, The (London, England) - Tuesday, March 4, 2003 Author: Ian Johns Joseph and the Amazing ... New London, WC2 ** When a boyband member goes solo, it is usually an attempt to distance himself from the embarrassing frivolity of a teenybop past. But Stephen Gately, still dubbed " the cute one from Boyzone", seems content to keep it nice and cosy by starring in this revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's first collaboration. Nice and cosy is certainly what is required for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat , which began life as a 20-minute piece for a school concert in 1968. Despite being expanded in the 1970s to become a touring stalwart for the producer Bill Kenwright, and given a high-tech West End makeover by Stephen Pimlott in 1991 starring Jason Donovan, it retains its classroom innocence. Eminem in the title role wouldn't really work. If Pimlott's production was a juggernaut of a production, then this West End revival, directed by Kenwright, is more of a comfy camper van. Built around a moveable staircase flanked by a seated children's choir, its most high-tech effect is the inflatable sheep that sprout through the steps to conjure up the countryside. With Rice's lyrics leaping from a well-thumbed rhyming dictionary and Lloyd Webber offsetting soupy ballads with pastiches ranging from calypso to cowboy hoe down, this is more panto than parable and Kenwright knows it -a Chevalieresque chanson even features a French onion-seller. Gately adopts that tremulous emoting into the middle distance we've come to expect from boyband balladry that works best for Joseph 's prison lament, Close Every Door. But whether being sold into slavery by his 11 jealous brothers or rising in the Pharaoh's court through his ability to interpret dreams, Gately has the same puppy-dog stare; even in prison his expression seems that of a little kid who has just had his ice-cream stolen. Gately's naive charm sets the tone of the show, complete with punch- the -air choreography, but it can only go so far. His beaming smile can't hide what is slender material overstretched to two acts. The second half is padded out with reprises - the gyrations of Trevor Jary's Presley-like Pharaoh are fun once, but three times? -and an extended clap-along curtain call of the catchier tunes rewards your patience with Gately eventually heading heavenward in his expanding multi-coloured glory. So you could say he rises to the occasion for his West End debut. But it's in a show that is still a piece of youthful whimsy. Even at two hours it strays well past its bedtime. Box office: 0870 890 1110 === The Other Night's First Night: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the New London Theatre: Dreamy Daily Mirror, The (London, England) - Wednesday, March 5, 2003 Author: Kevin O'Sullivan I ALWAYS thought that reaching my advanced age without seeing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a miraculous stroke of luck. But on Monday - while the brilliant Pride of Britain was unfolding on the other side of town - I was thrilled to see former Boyzone star Stephen Gately take the lead in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's timeless classic. Bill Kenwright's masterful production of this wonderful 35-year-old musical allows Gately full range to showcase his talents. The whole splendid exercise was great fun. As a Dreamcoat virgin I felt fulfilled by a superb piece of entertainment that is certain to stand the test of time for many years. Tickets: 0870 890 0141 === Theatre: Technicolor triumph - THEATRE JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT New London Theatre London Independent, The (London, England) - Thursday, March 6, 2003 Author: Paul Taylor I hadn't expected to have such a fabulously fun time. For a start, I was gibbering with jet lag after a flight from New York. Then again, I was cross because I couldn't persuade any of my children to accompany me. They had seen the kind of amateur version of this first product of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/ Tim Rice partnership that is four parts enthusiasm to one part theatrical competence, and they had been thoroughly put off. "It's a show that's better to be in than to watch," declared my eldest daughter sagely, which reminded her father of Noel Coward's immortal remark that television is a medium to appear on rather than to look on. Well, it's my children's loss. They would, I have little doubt, love this wonderfully warm-hearted, scenically lavish and deliriously droll revival by Bill Kenwright at the New London Theatre, a venue that seems to combine some of the virtues of cinema (space for the legs, a sense of wraparound width and freedom from fear of asphyxiation) with the human intimacy needed for a theatrical event. The key to the touching delight of the production lies in the very shrewd casting of Joseph . On one level, it looks like a witty in-joke. The last two West End leads were Jason Donovan and Phillip Schofield, two men who were wrongly fingered by the gutter press as being gay. Well, now we have in Stephen Gately, the former Boyzone singer, a man who bravely gazumped those horrendous hacks by outing himself as gay in advance of their sordid little game. Presumably, Kenwright chose him because Gately, being smallish and very winning, could embody a conception of Joseph as the appealing runt of the litter who thereby won his father's heart and his brothers' jealous hostility. But the performer brings another dimension. He sings so well and is so amused and mischievously at ease with his persona - a kind of sexy Boy (next door) George whom you could introduce to your mother - that he makes all of the audience, of whatever persuasion, fall for him. And the gay overtones give scenes like the late reunion with the father a heart-wrenching East of Eden quality. There was an English king who died of a surfeit of lampreys. Joseph is a show that could easily have died of a surfeit of lampoons. But the piece is a patchwork of such affectionate pastiche (from Elvis impressions to an Egyptian Cyd Charisse who puts the leg in "legend") that it never develops that overknowing taste of, say, Forbidden Broadway. It doesn't deflate its models, but like the sheep and the cacti that inflate hilariously out of the stage like airplane safety devices, it gives things a boost. And the children's choirs make you cry with happiness. The encores move things into a surreal heaven, with Gately surrounded by bigger and bigger (indeed Millennium Dome-like) multicoloured coats, and an apotheosis that would be the envy of Dame Edna. Gay men are notoriously better at clothes than straight ones. So here's a suggestion that might make Tim Rice and Lord Lloyd-Webber reunite at last. How about a sequel to the show, also starring Stephen Gately, entitled Joseph Goes Beige? Booking to July (0870 890 0141). A version of this review appeared in late editions of Tuesday's paper === Daily Mail: Coat's as good as new Daily Mail, The (London, England) - Friday, March 7, 2003 Author: MICHAEL COVENEY Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (New London) Verdict: Our first pop musical returns in all its glory ••••• HERE it is again, the most genuinely popular of all the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, and the first fruit of his historic collaboration with Tim Rice back in 1968, almost 35 years to the day. Back then, it was a 20-minute cantata in a prep school. Thanks to its lyrical fizz and musical bite, it became a 40-minute fringe sensation, an hour-long off-West End phenomenon and finally, at the Palladium in 1991, a two-hour West End hit. By then, of course, Rice and Lloyd Webber had seen their best days in Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. But what a wonderful and fabulous concoction this was, and remains, as Bill Kenwright's production proves, mixing the camp excesses of that last Palladium revival with the simple virtues of the original show. With former Boyzone star Stephen Gately as Joseph , you sense the whole freshness of pop and rock music of the time bending to a new-age theatrical musical, the very first. Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt. He becomes a guru to the Pharaoh and guides the country through recession and economic renewal. His father and brothers, asylum seekers from Canaan, beg for food. The coat goes missing, and is found; the tribe is reunited as Joseph ascends his chariot of gold. Rice's lyrics are brilliant, Cole Porter-ish in their careful wordiness; but especially, you note, here was a score of eclectic, super-talented theatricality: and so it proved! • VERSIONS of some of these reviews appeared in earlier editions. === The Express: THEATRE Express, The (London, England) - Friday, March 7, 2003 Author: EDITED BY TINU MAJEKODUNMI BY ROBERT GORE-LANGTON JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT New London Theatre, London WC2, 0870 890 0141 DANCE OF DEATH THE last two leads in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT were Jason Donovan and Phillip Schofield. Now along comes former Boyzone heart-throb Stephen Gately as Joseph in this new production. Gately is amusingly cocky and chipper, he can sing adequately and the role as the kid brother Joseph suits him down to the ground. It is all staged in the modern theatre that for decades (it feels like centuries) was home to Cats. This strikes me as the perfect replacement. It was in 1968 when this fresh, happy-go-lucky collusion between two young wannabe popsters Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber was born. The key to the musical is its unpretentious simplicity. It is a show for kids and Bill Kenwright wisely directs it as such. With loads of bright costumes, a kitsch Egyptian decor reminiscent of a Las Vegas hotel foyer and a chorus of 40 children sitting on either side of the stage grooving along, you can see why Joseph became the nation's favourite school show. A supercharged cast have a ball, alongside some inflatable sheep (one of them badly in need of a vet). Apart from telling a bible story through hilariously slangy lyrics, the songs, Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door, come over as the copperbottomed classics they are. There is no chance of forgetting them, thanks to the exhausting number of reprises at the end. A bottle of pure theatrical pop, it was first uncorked 35 years ago and hasn't lost its fizz. In DANCE OF DEATH, Strindberg's scorching classic about a marriage from hell, you get two spine-tingling performances: Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf from The Lord Of The Rings) and Frances De La Tour play an artillery captain and a one-time actress stuck on an island together, their lives an orgy of disgust and mutual loathing. These two slug it out (with Owen Teale playing the friend caught in the middle) in a production, directed by Sean Mathias, of a 100 year-old play that is still as horribly shocking as it is viciously funny. Truly great theatre, once seen never forgotten. === The Mail on Sunday (United Kingdom): Hate conquers all Mail on Sunday, The (London, England) - Sunday, March 9, 2003 Author: GEORGINA BROWN Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor dreamcoat New London Theatre, London 2hrs 15mins (including interval) Honour Cottesloe, National Theatre, London 1hr 45mins (no interval) Dance Of Death Lyric Theatre, London 2hrs 45mins (including interval) Claudia, a smart and sexy 28-year-old, meets George, a distinguished sixtysomething journalist while researching her book about movers and shakers. She looks into his eyes, gushes to the tune of 'You're so inspiring' and in a flash, unzips his marriage of 32 years. Put like that, the plot of Joanna Murray-Smith's play, Honour, sounds farfetched. Directed with surgical precision by Roger (Notting Hill) Michell, who draws extraordinary performances from a quartet of remarkable actors, it is shockingly plausible and becomes an engrossing, moving examination of married love, the contrasting priorities of clever women across two generations and the vanity of clever men. Catherine McCormack's awesome, predatory Claudia is excited by George's power and connections; Corin Redgrave's excellent George is flattered and massively turned on; Honour, his wife, is a published poet who had put her ambition on the back burner when they married and had a child, which Eileen Atkins reveals at her most devastating, riveting best. 'Are you leaving me?' she says, absentmindedly continuing to peel a potato. She is shocked to the core, stripped of her skin like the potato. The anger, bewilderment and betrayal felt by their 24-year-old daughter, Sophie, is marvellously portrayed by a very affecting Anna Maxwell Martin. It's clear where the playwright's sympathies lie: Claudia is diamond-bright and diamond-hard; George is made a fool of. But Murray-Smith's considerable skill lies in charting the minute emotional shifts and the subtle power play between the four people. Occasionally the writing is a bit obvious, but more often her insights are dazzling. Mature love, she suggests, includes memories of passion and of shared pleasures, as well as the pleasures of the present: its essential calmness is in itself a joy. The stage cuts the audience in two, emphasising the confrontational aspect of the piece. The walls resemble sheets of giant-sized exercise paper - three of the four characters are writers - and the stage is bare but for a chair. Four perfectly pitched performances illuminate the feelings between the lines and the emotions beyond the words. Superb. Strindberg's Dance Of Death is another portrait of a marriage, but one so dark you can hardly make out the shadow of the love which initially bound prickly former actress Alice to arrogant ex-soldier Edgar 25 years ago and brought them to an island where they appear chained together by mutual hate: Darby and Joan locked together in an inescapable hell. In Robert Jones's spectacular, dimly lit chamber of horrors filled with clanking metal and chains, Sir Ian McKellen and Frances de la Tour partner one another magnificently, revelling in a sardonic, bitter humour which is the only thing they have in common. Sean Mathias's production of Richard Greenberg's vivid new translation brilliantly captures the mood of savage farce. The marital war games played by Martha and George in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? are better sustained and dramatically more compelling, but there's little doubt Strindberg did it first. Bill Kenwright's scaled-down version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Seventies hit Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has the simplicity of an infants' school popup book and is hilariously kitsch - self-inflating sheep and cacti appear all over; the camels sing and Joseph wears gold platform boots. The staging and lighting have the obviousness and garishness of a TV game-show. Thanks to the synthesised keyboard music, it sounds like the tinny son et lumiEre displays laid on for tourists at ancient sites such as the Pyramids. The clunky choreography is as routine as an exercise class and it's ten times camper than a row of tents. It should be a nightmare - but it works like a dream. And it's a dream come true on many levels. First, it began as a 25-minute endof-term performance at Colet Court school in London in 1968 and grew and grew until it became a fullblown musical. Second, the story itself: Joseph 's brothers are jealous of gentle Joe so they sell him into slavery. Luckily, his ability to interpret dreams brings him great fortune and, in the end, he is reunited with his now impoverished brothers, with whom he shares his riches. Third, the casting of that cutest of cutie-pies, Stephen (Boyzone) Gately, as Joseph , is a real-life treat for his fans. And last, for the 20 or so schoolchildren who are making their West End debuts in the choir, it's a wish fulfilled. Stuffed with jokey pastiches and an Elvis lookalike and soundalike as the Pharaoh, the show also features Twent ies flappers, American cheerleaders, French chanteuses in berets and stripy tops and what sounds like a tune from Gigi. It is utterly irresistible: so many of the songs are familiar and I was singing and clapping along with the cheesiest of grins on my face. The finale is the glorious ascension of Gately's Joseph heavenward, his multicoloured coat following spectacularly in his wake. Go, go, go, Joe. I'm taking my children in the holidays and I can hardly wait. === The Sunday Telegraph (United Kingdom): Exhilarating bile, glorious hatred: Theatre Sunday Telegraph, The (London, England) - Sunday, March 9, 2003 Author: John Gross Dance of Death Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Safari Party Edgar and Alice live in an island garrison, in a grim circular tower which was once a prison. He is an artillery captain, she is a former actress. They hate each other; for nearly 25 years, they have been locked in deadly marital combat. When a newcomer, Alice's cousin Kurt, arrives, they quickly entangle him in their web. Between them, they do their best to ensure that the island merits its nickname of "Little Hell". Such is Strindberg's The Dance of Death, which can now be seen in a new revival at the Lyric Theatre, with Ian McKellen and Frances de la Tour in the main parts. The first thing that needs to be said about this extraordinary play is that it is a masterpiece; the second is that it is by no means as bleak as a brief description makes it sound. On the contrary, it is curiously enlivening. Strindberg's bile is more exhilarating than other men's fun. There is in fact a great deal of black humour in the piece, and Sean Mathias's excellent production makes the most of it. Frances de la Tour's savage put-downs, Ian McKellen's sadistic tricks, the tormenting lies, the skill with which they trade blows - you can't help laughing (and wincing) at these rapid-reaction displays of malice. But the vitality has a deeper source. The loathing which the couple feel for each other is a perverse form of attraction. It is what keeps them going. The cruellest thing you could do to them would be to put them in the hands of a marriage guidance counsellor. He would drive them mad - unless they succeeded in laughing him to scorn first. They glory in their animosity, and the energy with which they sustain it. The dance element in the play, you might say, is as strong as the death element. Death there certainly is, however - and not just spiritual death, but the prospect of literal death as well. The first clear intimation of it comes in the middle of a literal piece of dancing, when the Captain collapses while stamping around to a rousing tune he has forced Alice to play, The Entry of the Boyars. He may or may not be close to dying. Alice openly hopes that he is, though we know she would miss him. McKellen and de la Tour both give searing performances. McKellen's has a touch of his Iago, another character who was passed over in the promotion stakes (Alice isn't slow to remind the Captain that he failed to make it to the rank of major), and injured pride lends extra point to his eventual grotesque irruption in full-dress uniform with plumed helmet. De la Tour is restless and sinuous: she begins by darting venom in self-defence, but graduates to predator as she moves in on Kurt. One of the admirable things about both actors is that they do justice to the play's less feverish moods and its shifts of pace. For there are lulls in the action, and scenes where the couple seem to be slanging each other through force of habit rather than raw conviction. There is also a great deal which is businesslike and matter-of-fact - the unpaid bills, the tapping out of the telegraph, the snatches of perfectly normal conversation. It is a great mistake to think of Strindberg as a man moving exclusively among phantoms. He lived in the real world, too, and the production brings out his solid substance. Owen Teale adds to the sense of solidity with a fine performance as Kurt. Deep shades of the prison-house fall across Robert Jones's imposing set. Richard Greenberg's new adaptation strikes a few discordantly modern notes (why make the Captain talk about "scumbags" when he could just as well talk about scum?), but for the most part it flows easily and unobtrusively. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is back in town, in a production at the New London Theatre, and once again I find myself disappointed at how little use Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber make of the story. The rich possibilities of the biblical narrative are reduced to a loose bundle of pop songs. Still, there can be no denying that the show is a prodigious success on its own terms. It has given pleasure for 30 years, and there was certainly no sign of waning enthusiasm in audience reactions this week. Directed by Bill Kenwright and designed by Sean Cavanagh, the new staging is bright and cheerful. It features basic Egyptian motifs supplemented by comic pop-up sheep and children's choirs seated on either side of the stage. Rice's lyrics bounce along and Lloyd Webber's tunes are among his catchiest; pastiche remains the order of the day, with a French chanson (berets, a rope of onions) giving way to a calypso (lots of ruffles) and country and western treading on the heels of rock 'n' roll. There's a bantamweight Joseph , played by Stephen Gately, late of Boyzone, and a sleek Pharaoh ("To all intents and purposes he/Is Egypt with a capital E") performed in the customary Elvis manner by Trevor Jary. Jacob is impossibly benign, and the same actor doubles as Potiphar, which is confusing. On the other hand I was greatly impressed by Potiphar's wife (Kay Murphy) and her million-dollar legs, while the narrator, Vivienne Carlyle, has a fine clear voice and the requisite pep. Tim Firth's Safari Party, at the Hampstead Theatre, is a comedy built around a snowballing succession of lies. Adam tells a lie to his brother Daniel about the way their abusive father met his death. Daniel invents a story to get an inflated price from an antique dealer for the table on which the old man expired. The antique dealer tells a real whopper and sells the table for an outrageous sum to a family hungering for a bit of local history. (We are in rural Cheshire.) All the parties meet up at a safari party, a neighbourly get-together in which each course of a meal is served in a different house. There are some sound farcical possibilities here, and they are partly realised. Firth is particularly good at fanning his characters' snobbery by inventing improbable country traditions. He has also benefited, especially in terms of construction, from the example of Alan Ayckbourn - and indeed, the play is directed by Ayckbourn himself. But alas, the final product is sub-Ayckbourn - modestly amusing, and well performed by an amiable cast, but a lot slower and less inspired than the real thing. === Rest of the week's theatre Sunday Times, The (London, England) - Sunday, March 9, 2003 Author: John Peter Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat New London This enchanting musical explodes like glittering fireworks at a funfair. Joseph is a gem. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first collaboration is still one of their best: it combines warmth, energy, deep feeling and sly, infectious humour. The Joseph story is one of the earliest and greatest fairy stories: it appeals to all ages and can make both children and adults, except the most fossilised old sticks, feel that, as Joseph says, it really could be you. The producer, Bill Kenwright, directs the show himself, something few other producers could do, and he turns it into a brilliant celebration of words, music and colour. Sean Cavanagh's designs are a visual feast, imposing but also tongue-in-cheek: I loved especially the cutout camels and the pop-up sheep. All this goes perfectly with the tone of the piece: ALW's cheekily pastiche-ish music and Rice's impudently witty lyrics. Stephen Gately, of Boyzone fame, is an attractive, confident Joseph , though his upper notes wobble a bit; in fact, the whole show is a little overmiked, which can drown the words. Trevor Jary is a riot as Pharaoh, dressed up as Elvis. The handmaidens are luscious and so is the narrator, Vivienne Carlyle, who is also a strong singer. This is the best kind of feelgood show: unashamed, warm-hearted and irresistible. ===