Sheridan Smith Steals The Spotlight In Joseph The Musical Revival
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The revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph at the London Palladium can be summed up best as a torturous waiting game. Waiting, number by catchy number, to see how Sheridan ‘Sledgehammer’ Smith will end up front and centre.
One struggles to recall a single, unsullied number in the entire production that isn’t taken hostage by a gurning, winking, utterly self-indulgent Smith, even playing additional characters that could have given other performers a chance to shine, and to tell the story more convincingly. “It’s me!” she gurgles, yanking aside a comedy beard. We know, Sheridan. It’s been all you since curtain up.
Occasional focus is bestowed on the titular Joseph, performed by the endearing and undoubtedly talented Jac Yarrow, who is about to graduate from drama school and has the tell-tale exaggerated enunciation to prove it. He brings such an earnest intensity to the role that if you swapped the ‘dazzling coat of many colours’ for a bloody tricolour he would be right at home manning the barricades and grieving lost comrades on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Jason Donovan, arguably the most popular Joseph of yesteryear, hams it up marvellously — if completely unintelligibly — as the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh, surrounded by towering, guitar-playing sphinx and adoring dancing girls (which is, incidentally, the only way female ensemble members are employed in the show). It is astonishing that even his highly anticipated return to the production is interrupted by the scene-stealing narrator.
The hierarchy is unjustly enforced to the very end, when Smith takes the final bow. Surely an Olivier award-winning, established star could insist that Yarrow, the debut talent in the title role, be given that honour.
This 2019 reboot of a beloved musical, which kids everywhere will still adore, is flamboyant, joyous and ably performed by a very talented cast, but veers dangerously close to the distracting blockbuster effects and heavy-handed pantomime hilarity that infects so much of our modern-day entertainment. It’s a bombastic biblical barnstormer you’ll be humming for months, but if you’re not an ardent Sheridan fan, it’s a demoralising affair.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Palladium, 8 Argyll St, Soho, W1F 7LA. Tickets from £20, until 8 September 2019.
Last Updated 12 July 2019