Story House, Chester – until Saturday 20th April 2019
Reviewed by Julie Noller
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the musical that was written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber as the 60’s came to a close when they were in their early twenties, first performed in Edinburgh before it’s 1973 debut on the West End. Like fine wine it’s aged well and has become the musical of choice, both for theatre goers where it’s a must see extravaganza and performers on stage where names have been made, careers altered, chart topping hits and not forgetting we are now in the era of reality tv shows.
I first saw Joseph on the west end as I joined the queues eager to see Lee Mead following Any Dream Will Do the 2007 BBC reality show designed to choose the latest Joseph. I was keen to see how the touring version would compare after all regional theatres are often smaller, would the show be full of razzmatazz still? Honestly I need not have worried, it was a wonderful night full of show tunes, lights, typically British humour bringing to life the tale of Joseph from the Book of Genesis in The Bibles Old Testament.
If Fairy Powered Productions could sprinkle some of her magic dust and allow me a higher star rating then I would, I was beaming from ear to ear throughout. The wondrous applause throughout the entire performance highlighted the audience loved it just as much.
Like a mother with a family of squabbling children I found it impossible to choose my favourite character, yes we have our leading pair Trina Hill as Narrator, who brings experience along with compassion and warmth to the role. She is the perfect storyteller, vocally she was crystal clear, hitting those high notes. The joy of a smaller theatre meant I could see everything happening on stage from comedic sheep to Trina’s facial expressions. Jaymi Hensley is joining other prestigious names to play Joseph and his career, like that of Joseph, looks like it’s set to shine bright. Yes he may have come to the public’s attention as part of boy band Union J, who finished fourth on the X Factor in 2012. We are after all the generation of reality TV, that experience has done him no harm. He may still be honing his skills in theatre productions, but his voice is divine. He was cheeky when needed, sad and upset when called upon. Could go from quiet almost whispering to raising the rafters, quite easily he could have been singing to me only; the rest of the audience drifted away and my hairs stood on end. I needed no encouragement to get to my feet and applaud, I actually stayed on my feet and sang along for the ending medley.
The entire cast appeared to be enjoying the performance immensely. Henry Metcalfe as Jacob, Josephs beloved Father during Those Canaan Days is wonderful, Andrew Geater as Pharaoh an Elvisesque character bringing an ancient king to life as a modern day king. Then there’s the brothers themselves, the simple touches across culture from cowboys, to dancing cancan girls and jazz singers.
You may be aware of the story of Joseph already, the favourite son of Jacob who was hated by his jealous brothers. Sold as a slave, his golden coat of many colours (yes you’ll be happy to hear that song is included how could it not be) ripped to pieces and dipped in goats blood. He finally makes his fortune as a dream interpreter of Pharaoh and even saves his brothers from the famine that has hit the land so hard.
Of course you should go and see this Bill Kenwright Produced and Directed musical, I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t. Special mention should be to Chester’s own Stagecoach School who provided the Joseph Choir they performed magnificently and like the rest of the cast were thoroughly enjoying themselves which meant we the audience were enjoying ourselves.
Long may Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat reign both in spirit and our hearts. Like Josephs coat at the very end may your day be filled with a multicoloured rainbow that shines as long as the music does.