Tag Archive: Hippodrome


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

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I didn’t know what to expect about Mary Poppins. With the reputation built of being spectacular and so many friends lauding praise, I wondered if the show would live up to the hype.

One of my reservations came from listening to the 2005 Original London Cast Recording CD release which although full of many of the well known Sherman tunes from the 1964 film, still fell flat in my opinion. However, a live performance is a different matter so I was interested to see if a little theatre magic would explode from the stage. It stood a chance having being devised by Cameron Mackintosh, a producer whose shows have never let me down.

Mary Poppins – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 April 2016

I needn’t have worried. From the opening number I witness to over two hours of dynamic energy from a wonderful cast. Also, possibly the best set I have ever seen including a house on Cherry Tree Lane which unfolded before your eyes.

There seemed to be so much going on, you dared not switch attention for a second. During Jolly Holiday, the lighting altered on the backdrops so many times in a myriad of colours, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d changed the entire set mid song.

Yes, the old favourites were there: A Spoonful of Sugar, Feed the Birds, Let’s Go Fly a Kite and Chim Chim Cher-re. In addition to these, you also had the bigger song and dance numbers, particularly Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and the immense Step in Time. Rather Bert than me climbing the side of the stage before walking upside down from a great height as he went over the rooftops. Also, the newer live numbers came across better than the recording I’d heard, In particular, Practically Perfect and Anything Can Happen.

I was informed on arrival that the part of Mary Poppins would that night be played by an understudy. However, there was no disappointment. Jennifer Davison delivered with such power you’d be hard pressed to think she hadn’t been doing it for the entire run. Also supporting was Matt Lee as Bert, Milo Twomey as George Banks and Rebecca Lock as his wife, Winifred. Jane and Michael were played with enthusiasm in this performance by Madeline Banbury and Regan Garcia.

My only two criticisms would be that one, I thought some of Julian Fellows’ scripted dialogue was a little laborious at times. However, that wasn’t a fault of the production and with everything happening in front of you, it was forgotten most of the time. The other was that the vocal amplification appeared weak to start with. Whether this was rectified or I just got used to it is unknown. It wasn’t an issue later on.

All in all, a wonderful experience right until the end where the magical nanny flies above the audience, disappearing into the sky (or rather an exit in the theatre ceiling).

So did I enjoy after my original uncertainty? Absolutely. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mary Poppins – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 April 2016

Cheers.

Nick

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