Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Written on December 7th, 2010

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed by Susan Ferley
Choreographed by Kerry Gage
Musical direction by Ryan DeSouza
Performed by Jamie McKnight and Karen Coughlin et al
Grand Theatre, London
November 24, 2010 to January 2, 2011 – Extended to January 7.
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Go, Go, Go Joseph

You could pick up your Bible and read chapters 37 to 39 in Genesis, or you can go to the Grand Theatre and see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The musical version is fairly faithful to the Biblical story – except I couldn’t find in Genesis where is says the brothers were cowboys.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice took the story of Joseph and, with a little poetic licence, created a musical where there is a singing style for every colour in the coat.

Jacob has 12 sons, but he openly shows favouritism towards Joseph. The 11 brothers are jealous when Dad gives Joseph the famous colourful robe. When Joseph shows off his smarts by interpreting dreams, the brothers decide to get rid of him. Instead of following through on their first plan to kill him, they sell him into slavery. Joseph ends up working for Potiphar, whose hussy wife tries to seduce him. Joseph is jailed, but his skill at interpreting dreams gets him out and he is made Pharaoh’s assistant. When his starving brothers show up, Joseph tries to frame little brother Benjamin for theft. But then he tells them who he is, all is forgiven, and everyone re-creates the story in the huge megamix finale.

Karen Coughlin is incredibly good as the Narrator. Her voice is in fine form as she belts out the story, and she is very comfortable with a stage full of children.

Two casts of 20 children each perform on alternate shows, one from St. Mary Choir School and the other from Lester B. Pearson School. I saw the Pearson group, who appeared well rehearsed and sang and danced flawlessly. They echo the story portrayed by the adult characters, singing and acting out scenes. Keeley Hutton who plays one of Jacob’s wives, doubles as the schoolteacher, playing piano for the children’s songs. Some audience members believed she was a teacher from one of the schools!

The 11 brothers create much of the comedy. In particular, there’s a scene where they are starving and one of them catches a fly – but despite being tempted to eat the insect, they pass it down the line to their father. The hilarious facial expressions as the invisible fly is sent along the line are priceless!

Jonanthan Ellul illustrates his comedic talent as one of the brothers and also as Potipher. Matt Cassidy’s performance as the Pharoah-slash-Elvis is excellent, thank you, thank you very much. Steward Adam McKensy performs well in Benjamin Calypso, and Judy Kovacs deserves special mention for her amazing dancing. The entire cast is top quality, including all the brothers and wives, and the father, Jacob, played by Michael Fletcher, who originally had the old man’s role in Toronto with Donny Osmond.

Jamie McKnight as Joseph has an amazing voice. He has toured as one of the Canadian Tenors, and he handles the familiar tunes very well. However, his acting is unconvincing; he doesn’t demonstrate the emotional journey that Joseph must go through, from cocky kid, to the frustration of being wrongfully jailed, then evolving into a leader, and learning to forgive. Unfortunately, McKnight’s demeanour doesn’t change with the circumstances, and he isn’t able to elicit the audience’s sentiments.

Bill Layton’s sets and costumes are well done – From the giant camel to the wives and brothers’ robes, and the coat of many colours, which was truly amazing.

Joseph continues at the Grand Theatre in London until January 2. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 519-672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593, or visit

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