Jason Donovan as Pharaoh and Jac Yarrow as Joseph. Pictures: Tristram Kenton

Joseph and the

Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Birmingham Hippodrome


I’m of an age where much of my youth included watching Jason Donovan in Neighbours (sad it’s going) and then on Top of the Pops. When he made the jump to the initial run of Joseph, I sadly never got to see it.

So, when I found out he was coming to the Birmingham Hippodrome, playing the Pharaoh, in the latest production, direct from the London Palladium, I made it my mission to see it.

It’s fair to say I wasn’t disappointed – it was one of the best and most spectacular shows I’ve ever seen.

Written as a primary school play in 1968 – before I was born, promise - it is a lavish production which retains a fun heart at its core.

Headlined by Jason Donovan, Alexandra Burke as the narrator and Jac Yarrow as Joseph – they are the cherries on an exceedingly fantastic cake.

The performance got off to a slightly tricky start- about five minutes in there were some technical difficulties which meant the audience had to wait a few moments before things got back on track. It was more than worth the wait!

Enormous bicycle camels are but one of the amazing additions to designer Morgan Large’s wonderful set. Add to this the lighting of Ben Cracknell (never better than in the starry introduction of Joseph), the hordes of kids playing brothers and prisoners and it’s a real treat.

What surprised me most was the inventiveness of Joann M Hunter’s choreography, encompassing street dance, tap, line dancing and even a can-can. There’s something here for everyone.


Alexandra Burke showing impeccable comic timing

Alexandra Burke, as narrator, turns in an absolutely barnstorming performance, not only as narrator but in other combined roles (even more impressive considering she is performing while pregnant). I always knew she had a great voice and, after Strictly, that she is also a very good dancer, but what I didn’t know was how good her comic timing was. As the jailer she’s a revelation. She really does make you laugh and is very much worth top billing.

Yarrow’s Joseph is fabulous, back in the role which marked his professional debut two years ago. He has a cheek, a charm and a voice, worthy of a Disney film with Close every door to me being a particular highlight.

And what of my main reason for going? As Pharaoh, Jason Donovan definitely gives it some star power. His vocals are great if lacking the sheer power of his other headliners and he camps up his performance to epic levels of comedic effect – I’d imagine similar to his turn in Priscilla rather than his original Joseph. He hams it up in the style of another pretty famous King and the audience laps it up.

Overall Laurence Connor’s revival is great fun and something which really lightens the mood in today’s dark times. Like a school nativity on steroids, it’s perfectly timed for half term.

Suitable for all ages (my ten year old loved it – his verdict was ‘oh my God, it was fabulous – enchanting!!’), there are also some performances which are audio described /captioned /BSL interpreted. 

If you can get to see it then I would highly recommend it – some performances are already limited availability so get in quick.

Sarah Clarke


Running to Saturday, 16 April, (with matinee performances on Saturdays)  with tickets starting from £30, Discounts and concessions are available HERE, including a family offer for some weekday performances.

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