Archive for July, 2019


Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was the first Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber production to have an audience, arriving in 1968. Therefore, considering my love of musical theatre and the amount of shows I go to, it’s criminal it has taken me until 2019 to see this.

I won’t go into detail, but the story is based around the Joseph saga from that famous work of fiction, The Book of Genesis. Basically, Joseph is the favourite son, which angers his brothers who throw him in a pit, then sell him into slavery. However, the tables are turned when Joseph rises to a position of power and the brothers end up begging him for help.

Including recognisable numbers like Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door, Joseph has been wowing audiences for years. So, would it do the same for me? Sadly not.

It’s a pity, because it started so well with great sound from the orchestra in the overture, and that’s where the fun ended. Heavens (Forgive the pun), it’s a dull show. The songs are not particularly interesting with poor lyrics and a flat storyline. To be frank, this Bill Kenwright production was drab. I expected a myriad of colour but got a stripped-back offering with the minimum of set. There were a few decent Egyptian pieces in Act Two, but that’s about it. Costumes looked cheap as did many of the props. Cardboard talking camels and a likewise Sphinx spring to mind. Not funny or clever. I’ve seen school productions put more effort in. Okay, I do have to say the cast were amazing, but you can only work with what you’re given, which wasn’t much.

To start with, we had a choir of 40 children who were great in the entr’acte and probably so all the way through. However, the sound was not balanced once in competition with the cast and you could barely hear the kids. Such a shame as they put in so much effort, all to be sadly let down. Then we have the character of Joseph. Union J singer Jaymi Hensley did a good job vocally, but I had no empathy for the character. Joseph is supercilious throughout, even when he is down on his luck, and if I was one of his brothers, I’d have probably flung him in a pit as well. And left him.

Another disappointment was the choreography, or rather, lack of it. It all seemed basic and having attended a dance school performance the previous week, I know which I’d award top marks for.

However, worst of all had to be the song parodies. A Country and Western dance … really! I know this and others were also in earlier versions, but they simply don’t work. Anubis’ who looked like grid iron footballers and Joseph’s family dressed as Parisians, complete with striped shirts, berets and neck-scarves. To complete this, we had a pop-up Eifel Tower, just in case you weren’t sure they were supposed to look French. I’m surprised we didn’t have a full house with them sporting a string of onions. Pathetic. But the icing on the cake as far as supreme tacky went to the Elvis impersonator. Again, this has been part of the show before but on this tour, you get the full Vegas experience (Oh, I kid you not). After Song of the King, Joseph asks Pharaoh if he can sing it again. I don’t think those around me expected to hear the stifled cries, of, “Oh, please don’t.”

But none of this was the fault of the cast, as I’ve stated, and in addition to Hensley as Joseph, we had a magnificent performance from Anna Campkin as the Narrator while supporting well on the night were: Henry Metcalf (Jacob/Potiphar) and Andrew Geater (Pharaoh).

Direction for Joseph was the responsibility of Bill Kenwright with Choreography from Henry Metcalf and Gary Lloyd, plus musical direction by Jeremey Wootton.

Now I’m all for reinvention and updated versions, I look forward to them, but this wasn’t a good one. What may have set out to be a clever idea looked more dated than it would have been 30 to 40 years ago. I really think in 2019 we can do better. I also have to say I feel sorry for the folk for whom this was their first musical experience, because they may not come back.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Advertisements

Great Wyrley was the setting for Keeling School of Dance’s showcase of talent. Titled, Dancing Through the Decades, the show was exactly that.

Keeling School of Dance was established in 1934 by Beatrice Keeling at the age of 14, operating from her parents’ house before continuing in the area, finally moving to Aldridge in 1976. Sadly, Miss Keeling passed away in 2014, having taught until 2012. It is great, though, that the school has continued, run by former pupils: Sarah Beckett, Elaine Wigfield, Clare Cooksey and Jane Eardley (whose daughter, Fran Eardley, is also a teacher at the school). Classes begin from age 2 up to advanced level and adult beginners. Now, I’ve a huge fondness for this dance school on two counts. One, it’s where I rehearse every week in my attempts at musical theatre. Two, Keeling is where my mom and dad attended during the 60s and 70s and were rather more proficient at dance than I’ll ever be.

I have a passion for musical theatre and dance features heavily in that. There is also nothing better than seeing youth with its potential for the future. And what talent we saw. Dance is a fantastic medium to develop confidence and skills, all within a friendly environment.

The audience were dazzled by groups of various ages and it was fascinating to witness the skills within each age band. It’s obvious to see, children currently seven and under will in a short time progress to where those eleven and beyond are now. Numbers from The Greatest Showman, Oliver and High School Musical were among nearly fifty performed with excellent choreography and well-chosen music which blended seamlessly.

I can’t praise enough the standards on view from all. I had also a great amount of pride watching the musical theatre group, many of whom did such a fantastic job for me in my 2018 pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, at the same theatre. And it was also particular pleasing to see the innagural star pupil award go to Rosie Harris, who was a pleasure to work with in that same panto of mine. Well done. It’s too long to list everyone on stage, so I’ll settle for a page of the programme.

I can’t recommend Keeling School of Dance enough. Dancing Through the Decades was a fabulous afternoon, and it was the commitment and spectacular performances from all which made this a truly remarkable event.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

%d bloggers like this: