Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Tim Rice
Director: Bill Kenwright
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the musical returns to the stage con brio, with a plethora of well-known musical numbers, refreshed and rejuvenated with all its original pizzazz still in place. The Biblical story of Joseph, betrayed by his jealous brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt, is told in song with the help of a narrator and some cracking dance numbers with added new choreography by Gary Lloyd. Bill Kenwright’s touring production by special arrangement with the Really Useful Theatre Group pulls out all the stops, breathing new life into the musical, which originated as a concept album back in 1969, and since then staged both in the West End, on Broadway and all over the world.
This time around, the show provides a great opportunity for Union J’s Jaymi Hensley, whose first major musical role this is. Hensley rises to the challenge, giving a young Joseph whose doubts in his own talent – of interpreting dreams, ultimately to save his life – are portrayed. As Joseph matures and becomes a favourite with the Pharaoh whose slave he is, Hensley shows an admirable understanding of the role – and (as those familiar with The X Factor that spring-boarded his career will know) – he can certainly sing! Ah, those songs! The melodic Close Every Door to Me and – making this hardened critic shed a tear – the heart-rending Any Dream Will Do, reprised when the story comes full circle at the end of Act II as the elderly and frail Jacob is reunited with his son. Pass the tissues, please!
There is comedy, too – the ironic Poor, Poor Pharaoh springs to mind – and some great comedic touches: the camels are hilarious! (Well, you can’t have a desert without a camel). Wisely, Kenwright and his team have remained faithful to the ‘goodies’ that play a major part in the ongoing success of this musical. Among them Pharaoh, a white-suited Elvis look-alike played this time around with a style that fits by Andrew Geater. That wonderful old-timer Henry Metcalfe doubles as the Egyptian potentate Potiphar who is Joseph’s mentor and as Jacob, the father left desolate when Joseph disappears from the family fold.
Amber Kennedy is a sexy Mrs. Potiphar, red-gowned and with a twinkle in her eye, as well as her feet. As for the brothers (11 of them) – talent here too, with some incredible dance moves from a group that includes the handsome Lewis Asquith, who doubles as the butler, and the lively Joshua Robinson who comes into his own in a Caribbean Calypso in the second half. (A bit of poetic licence here!) As the narrator, Trina Hill’s task is to link the story together – not the easiest of roles in this show, involving as it does popping up unexpectedly at times. Hill’s diction is clear but her voice can at times tend towards shrillness in the higher register.
Very much a family show, this musical ticks the boxes on so many fronts, not least of these being Sean Cavanagh’s stunning scenery, with exotic historical references such as sphinxes and pyramids towering overall, aided and abetted by Nick Richings’ skillful lighting.
Runs until Saturday 18th May 2019 | Image: Contributed