Andrew Lloyd Webber

MINI REVIEW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Edinburgh Playhouse

Bill Kenwright’s touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biblical musical is undergoing another UK tour and this theatregoer was thrilled to encounter a remarkably slicker production than the 2013 tour. Following a last minute contract withdrawal from the original star headlined to be the show’s Narrator, Amelia Lily sweeped in to save the day with her strong vocals and impressive knowledge of the show regardless of her limited time in rehearsals. In the absences of long-running Jacob/Potiphar Henry Metcalfe, Chris Kayson stepped into the roles with a breath of fresh energy. The ensemble, too, seemed sharper than before and Lloyd Daniels provided an adorable Welsh charm to the titular character. As the result of an impressively strong cast, the overall show became a much more enjoyable experience; one could relax and enjoy the child-targeted special effects and be swept up in the charmingly quirky work of Lloyd Webber. Until the next tour!

SEPTEMBER FAVOURITE: Love Never Dies

Love Never Dies: the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Having been exposed to two of the songs from the show; Til I Hear You Sing and Devil Take the Hindmost at the recent Three Phantoms concert, my curiosity was suddenly risen. We all know about the negative reviews the show received during its London run and the mixed reviews circulating the web from fans of Phantom. I enjoyed the Three Phantoms renditions of both songs and was left with one question in my mind: just what is Love Never Dies about?
 
Last year a revamped version of Love Never Dies opened in Australia to favourable reviews and was even filmed for a DVD release.I bought myself a copy of the DVD and settled down for a viewing of the show I thought was going to be truly awful…
 
 

Set ten years after the Phantom of the Opera on Coney Island, the Phantom is the anonymous genius behind “Phantasma” where Meg Giry is the “Oh La La Girl” and very much the star of the show. The Phantom, however, is not content and longs for the return of his original obsession, Christine Daae. Having written a beautiful new aria with her in mind the Phantom invites Christine to make her American debut on the Phantasma stage. Unaware that the Phantom is behind this she accepts and arrives on Coney Island with her husband Raoul de Chagny and their son Gustave and is instantly haunted by memories of the events ten years ago in Paris, France. Raoul, who gambled his wealth away long ago, is now prone to drinking and is not at all close to his son who worries his father does not love him. Christine reassures Gustave that love is in many forms and that Gustave should “look with his heart.” Christine sends her son to bed and the Phantom reveals himself to Christine. They reminisce about their love and the possibility that it may have succeeded in different circumstances-

 
And here lies the first fault within the storyline of Love Never Dies. Yes, the Phantom was obsessed with Christine to the extent that he did not think he could exist without her but did he truly love her? Did Christine’s fascination for the masked man ever turn into love? My answer to both of these questions is no and this makes the plot of Love Never Diesextremely hard to believe. 
 
Plot, on its own, makes a very powerful musical that consists of haunting and memorable original music by Andrew Lloyd Webber that will echo in your mind for days after viewing. 
 
The DVD version of Love Never Dies consists of a very strong cast. Ben Lewis stars as the Phantom and gives an excellent performance. His leading lady is Anna O’Byrne who was recently the alternative Christine Daae in the West End production of the Phantom of the Opera. Vocally and physically stunning, O’Byrne is a wonderful Christine and Simon Gleeson does very well as the shamed and slightly less admirable Raoul. Sharon Millerchip and Maria Mercedes provide fantastic performances as Meg and Madame Giry respectively. 
 
Love Never Dies is a brilliant show with intriguing sets, lighting and beautiful costumes. If you have not yet purchased this DVD and are a fan of Phantom then I recommend that you check this show out. You may, like I did, find it difficult to accept certain aspects of the show or you may love every moment. 
 
Love Never Dies (Australian production) is available to buy on Amazon. The London Cast Recording is also available, with some significant differences, on Amazon and iTunes. 

REVIEW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, King’s Theatre

For two weeks only, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s touring musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is residing in Glasgow’s King’s Theatre. Starring a cast of eighteen members include a very strong ensemble, Joseph transports the audience “way way back, many centuries ago” and tells the iconic biblical story of Joseph, his adoring father and eleven jealous brothers.
 
Ian H Watkins, best known as H in the successful band of the late 1990s and early 2000s Steps is featured in many advertising campaigns for this tour of Joseph and indeed is the star of the show. No matter if he is sporting some rags, a coat of many colours or simply a loin cloth, Watkins looks like he is having the time of his life playing the role of his dreams. His vocals are surprisingly strong and clear, his rendition of Close Every Door being a stand out moment of the show that promises to raise more than a few goosebumps towards the climax of the well known song. 
 
Jennifer Potts was far from the vocally powerful actress required for the role of the Narrator. Her voice was lost among the harmonising choir of children thus most of the storyline drifted over the audience’s head, the essential lyrical guide to the musical completely drowned out. This makes Joseph a very hard show to watch, it is near impossible to relax and simply enjoy the show, even for those familiar with the biblical story. When Potts could be heard, her voice was not pleasant to the ear, making her a curious choice for the character that must carry the show.
 
However, it must be acknowledged that the rest of the company were of an excellent standard. Go Go Go Joseph soloists Meg Astin and Sackie Osakonor provided some of the best vocals of the night. The choreography by Henry Metcalfe is a delight to watch, another stand out moment being the Parisian dance during Those Canaan Days. 
 
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a feel good show that doesn’t quite reach the heights it has the potential to reach due to unfortunate casting. A mishap with Joseph’s multicoloured coat resulted in a somewhat tangled mess that was no where near the impressive fan effect usually seen in promotional shots for the show – another disappointment to add to the collection.
 
If you are a fan of Steps then it is worth a trip to see Ian H Watkin’s fantastic portrayal of Joseph. If you are a fan of the show then perhaps it is better to steer clear of this production of the show.