Every so often, it pays to leave your good taste at home and, ignoring the scoffing and taunting of ignorant, blinkered friends, have a quite amazing night out. It is at this point that I should hold my hands up and admit that I like Andrew Lloyd Webber. I like his coy over-acting with Graham Norton. I like the ill-disguised pain etched all over his face when the camera switches to him during some caterwauling performance. I even like his throne. True, the sight of the Dark Lord clutching a pair of no-longer-needed sparkly stiletto shoes to his chest week on week during Over The Rainbow was a step too far, but all in all, I have a lot of time for him and his jaunty musicals; not least, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor (a registered trademark, apparently) Dreamcoat, currently showing at The Lowry.
Last time I saw this I think I was about ten, when I went on a school trip that I remember little about other than having an ice-cream at half time, and having to sit next to a horrid mean girl who I didn't like. So I had completely forgotten that not only is Joseph a musical, it is ALL MUSICAL - no pesky talky bits at all, just good, honest, over-enunciated singing. My traitorous friend, it turned out, had been secretly rehearsing for weeks with the aid of a Joseph soundtrack CD played on repeat in her car, and was therefore ready to sing along with everything, whereas it emerged that I only really knew the chorus of most songs, thus limiting me somewhat; for example "go go go Joseph, um, tra la la la la..."
No matter. We were sat right at the front, practically straddling the man with the electric piano (who sensibly had enormous headphones on, presumably to block out the unpleasantness of audience sing-along) and in serious danger of being blinded by Craig Chalmers' unfeasibly white teeth. He came fifth in the Any Dream Will Do show, and there is rather a whiff of cheese about him, with his orange glow and a thatch of yellow hair that would do nicely for a whole row of country cottages in need of a roof. Still, apart from the slow songs, which came across rather nasal, he did a decent enough job, although his Scottish accent did rather throw the aforementioned friend - her CD was mostly delivered in Australian, on account of it being the Jason Donovan version (serves her right).
The show itself? Just perfect - beautifully choreographed and performed (particularly by the eleven men playing Joseph's brothers), and with lovely aah-aah-aahs on Any Dream Will Do courtesy of a fleet of cute children from a school in Chester. Sadly the run ends tomorrow, or I would be pestering to go again; as it is, since I got home from the show last night I have communicated with my increasingly annoyed husband and cat entirely through the medium of song.
- The Lowry can be contacted on 0843 208 6000, or via their website at www.thelowry.com.