Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the perennial family favourite musical and I return to it every time it is on at my local theatre. I never tire of listening to what I think is Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest yet simplest creation – with its easy listening score including such songs as ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door’. Joseph is the simple moral story of a young dreamer who has a talent for interpreting dreams, and whose dreams actually come true – but the course of Joseph’s life is changed by the actions of his eleven brothers, jealous of the attention he receives from their father Jacob, particularly the gift of a multicoloured dreamcoat. Bill Kenwright’s touring production of the show has been running on-and-off for almost as long as the Bible story itself, with occasional breaks when Joseph has run in the West End, and has starred a wide array of leading men in the title role, with Ian ‘H’ Watkins currently returning to a role he played in the West End some years ago.

The performance of Joseph I saw was the last one of a ten show week – that’s a heavy tour schedule for any company, and a few cracks were showing. The local kids choir were enthusiastic and in fine voice, but at times they were relied on too much to carry the sound, with principal members of the company holding back on their vocals and depending on the sound system to (barely adequately) carry them. The tempo of Lloyd Webber’s score was played a tad slower than on previous occasions too, which impeded the crispness and staccato delivery of Rice’s lyrics. Even the set looked a little tired, with wooden slats on either side to seat the kids (still doing the fun hand movements first used back in the day), with various scenery and props brought on around it, often during overly used smoke effects.

Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins gives a strong acting performance (and is a good company player) in the role of Joseph himself, playing him as an innocent young man, with clear and confident vocal delivery throughout. Surprisingly, Watkins holds back on his natural exuberant character and only displays the cheeky chappy we all know from the pop stage during the obligatory medley at the end of the show. Jennifer Potts’ Narrator had quiet vocals throughout and showed rather a lack of enthusiasm for what was going on – the Narrator is core to the story and needs to really lead the action and this was lacking here. Henry Metcalfe continues in the role of Jacob which he has played for many years now, and obviously enjoys playing the matriarch, also appearing as the more tempestuous Potiphar. The brothers were quite strongly played too, although Benjamin Pomeroy was not quite young enough and rather too worldly wise for Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin. Luke Jasztal as Reuben also gets to play the Elvis inspired Pharaoh, in a tongue in cheek sequence (though Pharaoh’s new additional song ‘King of my Heart’ stretches this sequence out unnecessarily, away from the Joseph story).

At the beginning of the show, one of the pop up sheep didn’t pop out of the set as it should have done – it was almost there but not quite. The same could be said of the show itself. It did come to life in the fifteen minute ‘megamix’ at the end with Joseph’s multicoloured coat impressively displayed by the company – it just needed a bit more colour at times throughout.