Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Donny Osmond in JOSEPH
(Photo: Alex Bailey)

The First Ever Review

Sunday May 19, 1968, The Sunday Times

“Pop Goes Joseph”

“Give us food,” the brothers said, “dieting is for the birds”

Joseph gave them all they wanted, second helpings, even thirds...

Even on paper the happy bounce of lyrics like these comes through.  They are exactly right for singing by several hundred boy's voices. With two organs, guitars, drums and a large orchestra the effect is irresistible.

The quicksilver vitality of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the new pop oratorio heard at Central Hall, Westminster, last Sunday, is attractive indeed.  On this evidence the pop idiom—beat rhythms and Bacharachian melodies—is most enjoyably capable of being used in extended form.

Musically, Joseph is not all gold. It needs more light and shade. A very beautiful melody, “Close Every Door to Me,” is one of the few points where the hectic pace slows down. The snap and crackle of the rest of the work tends to be too insistent, masking the impact of the words, which unlike many in pop, are important.

But such reservations seem pedantic when matched against Joseph's infectious overall character. Throughout its twenty-minute duration it bristles with wonderfully singable tunes. It entertains. It communicates instantly as all good pop should. And it is a considerable piece of barrier-breaking by its creators, two men in their early twenties—Tim Rice, the lyricist and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the music.

The performers last Sunday were the choir, school and orchestra of Colet Court, the St. Paul's junior school, with three solo singers and a pop group called the Mixed Bag.  It was an adventurous experiment for a school, yet Alan Doggett, who conducted, produced a crisp, exciting and undraggy performance which emphasized the rich expansiveness of pop rather than the limitations of its frontiers.

Review by Derek Jewell, © Copyright

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