Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat feels like a big warm hug

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Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat feels like a big warm hug

Review by Ben Lamb

Go Go Go and see Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

We’ve all been through the rigamarole hundreds of times – scan your tickets, find your seats. But when we entered the Regent Theatre on Wednesday night for Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, something felt different. The excitement in the air was indescribable, audiences were ready to meet Joseph and the gang.

Even though most of us were there to see Joseph, the real lead of this show is the Narrator, the role performed impeccably in this new production by Paulini Curuenavuli. You’re drawn into every single word she sings – Curuenavuli opens the show to rapturous applause, joined by the talented children’s cast, performing fan favourite song Some Folks Dream.

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‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’: Paulini embracing the challenge of musical theatre

If you’re familiar with the production, or the hit movie based on the musical, you’ll know Joseph is sung-through, meaning there’s little to no dialogue, each song effortlessly moving onto the next, it connects you to the cast in an interesting way, you’re brought into their world, the show feels like a big warm hug. Theatregoers are soon thereafter introduced to Joseph, played by Euan Fistrovic Dodge, who commands the stage like a performer in his prime, and it’s clear we’re in the presence of immense talent.

The children’s cast do a great job amplifying these opening numbers and engaging the audience in the numbers, leaving us no doubt that Melbourne’s theatre future is in good hands.

Curuenavuli continues to dominate song after song, each high note and belted chorus getting more applause than the last, it’s insane that her talent has flown under the radar since Australian Idol. She introduces us to Joseph’s family, where it’s revealed he is often maligned and left out – his brothers played by a mixture of adults and children who provide valuable comedic relief throughout the two-hour show.

The stage design also really shines during this middle section of the first act, walking the line between a show for kids and an international musical, as ridiculously fake animals contrast with ornate backdrops – all of which gives the show plenty of charm.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical possesses the occasional scene that doesn’t meld well into contemporary culture, but they’re a rarity. Before the show finishes up its first act, Joseph is put in jail, and we are treated with a rendition of another fan favourite, Close Every Door, which is a showstopping moment for Fistrovic Dodge, and the kind of performance that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The audience’s response clearly had an impact on Dodge, too.

Go, Go, Go Joseph wraps up Act 1 in predictably heartwarming style and the second act begins similarly to the first, this time with Curuenavuli introducing the almighty Pharoah. This role is famously stunt-casted, with performers such as Jason Donovan and Bill Bailey taking the role in the past. It was announced in August that Melbourne’s Pharoah would be none other than former AFL footballer Shane Crawford.

Hawthorn AFL legend Shane Crawford to make theatre debut

In the leadup to the opening night, there was much discussion about the choice to cast Crawford, who appears aware that his voice struggles to carry across a theatre and doesn’t look entirely comfortable on stage. Yet, it’s arguable that the role requires someone with the star power he has. When he strode onto the Regent Theatre stage, it was immediately clear he’s worked insanely hard to keep up with the performances of Curuenavuli and Dodge. The Pharoah isn’t on stage for long, but Crawford manages to make an impact.

The Pharoah performs Song of the King, and it’s cleverly sung in the style of Elvis, deflecting pressure. The number is full of comedic moments, and after years in media, it’s little surprise that Crawford hits his comedic beats. It was clear from the audience’s response that he’s one of the biggest drawcards of the show, but with so much strength among the rest of the cast, there are a plethora of other reasons to see it.

Paulini continues to crush every song. A key part of almost every number in the act, eyes are drawn to her every time she’s on stage – she has an amazing stage presence that deserves to be commended. Everything wraps up with the Joseph Megamix, theatregoers are invited to stand up, dance, and film, and for a few minutes, Joseph becomes a rock show. It’s a very erudite way to close the experience we’ve all been through for the last couple of hours.

With so many shows coming and going on our stages in the last few months, it doesn’t feel like any shows have made a lasting impact. But there’s something special about Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, it’s a show we all need.

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat runs at The Regent Theatre until January 28, grab your tickets here.