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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Press reviews: Joseph musical
Lee Mead
The musical is based on the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers
Theatre critics were in abundance at the opening night of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat in the West End to see TV talent show winner Lee Mead make his debut in the lead role.

With a reputation for being scornful of any Andrew Lloyd Webber productions, many were won over by the production at the Adelphi Theatre, although others found it too gaudy.

Mead, who won the role after a public vote in the TV final, already had musical experience, having toured with the Joseph production in 2004.


Not much is asked of (Mead) as an actor. He needs to be melancholy when he's thrown into prison, imperious when he greets the brothers who sold him into slavery, kindly when he forgives them, happy when he's reconciled with that glum old dodderer, his grieving dad.

All this Mead manages well enough; but what distinguishes him is an attractive singing voice.

He certainly makes a stronger star than Jason Donovan, whose underpowered, blonde-wigged Joseph in 1991 came across as the Goldilocks of Genesis.

And I must say, I enjoyed it more last night than I did 16 years ago, even though I'd have liked more rough-theatre simplicity, less ostentatious ado.


What Lee Mead has in spades is charm, crucial in a role that could easily seem unattractively priggish.

He also looks good in a loincloth and has a powerful and expressive voice.

By the end, however, his vocals were beginning to sound a touch frayed and he and the management need to take care he doesn't overstrain his greatest asset like Connie Fisher in The Sound of Music."


In this version everything is covered with the synthetic gloss of show business. Lee Mead, fresh-faced and chubby-thighed in his white loin cloth, is a perfectly decent Joseph; but you feel it didn't need the ludicrous rigmarole of a TV reality show to discover him since he'd already played Pharaoh in the West End.

He also misses the faint element of self-satisfaction in Joseph's character just as Preeya Kalidas's leggy Narrator lacks the necessary vocal crispness.

A musical which once possessed its own buoyancy has been turned into a piece of gaudy, chocolate-box commercialism.


The voice is weak in the lower register and at one point it almost disappeared completely, washed away by an over-pumpy band and maybe by a dry mouth. He sounded slightly blocked-nosey in the early moments. Flu, maybe.

But he has stage presence and a winning way and the public, having voted for him on BBC One's Any Dream Will Do, will forgive him much. Good. He deserves it.

Lee himself is not a natural comedian. He does not move particularly well. But he hurls himself into the honking cacophony and is almost as gorgeous to behold as Joseph's multi-coloured coat.


Lacking in character and with a tendency to give out towards the end of a line, his voice is not the world's greatest, or even the greatest in the show.

But Mead more than fulfils the requirements, with a mop of dark curls, a wholesome, sweet manner, and a way of filling a pleated loincloth that will appeal to all sexes.

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