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The Spinoff reviews New Zealand #17: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today: Madeleine Chapman caught the latest musical in town with the longest name.

When I was younger, I watched a DVD of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat almost every day during one school holidays. And in all those viewings, I never noticed how strange it was that almost every song was sung in a different accent and genre, not to mention the very ballsy move of having Pharaoh be an Elvis impersonator.

Now that I’m older and the internet has expanded exponentially, were Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice guilty of massive cultural appropriation? I wouldn’t know. But seeing that DVD come to life at the Civic Theatre, it all somehow made perfect sense.

Of course they’d modernise the clothing to feature Chucks and a lot of cutoff denim. Of course one of the songs would be sung in Calypso style, with Caribbean accents. Of course there’d be a never-before-seen cameo from a wildly unpopular political leader.

On paper, Joseph looks like someone asked for musical suggestions and then decided to run with every single one of them. And yet, the sheer energy with which it’s performed (and of course the incredible tunes of ALW) makes Joseph work.

Why not.

If you’re willing to suspend disbelief and resist whispering “none of these actors are Jewish” to the person sitting next to you, you’ll have a great time.

Coming in under two hours total, it’s child-friendly in almost every way. But perhaps a viewing of the 1999 film wouldn’t go amiss as following a story through singing can be tough. Trust me, I watched Les Miserables with subtitles.

A lot of the songs will be stuck in your head long after you leave the theatre, but if you want to impress and annoy those around you, here’s a helpful list of the colours in the eerily catchy tune ‘Joseph’s Coat’.

“It was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange and blue.”

I can only hope that in an upcoming show, someone is braver than I and follows through with standing and clapping along during the final song. Because if the performers are going to show more enthusiasm than most people show in their entire lives, the least you can do is cheer. – Madeleine Chapman

Verdict: Can’t go wrong with a song and dance.

Good or bad: Good.

Head here for dates and tickets.

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