I come from the bizarre position of having never seen the 1999 DVD version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s sung through musical. I recall seeing a school production about 8 years ago, but only remember watching it: I couldn’t tell you a single thing about that production.
The cast and crew of this production took on the difficult challenge of presenting a grown up Joseph: they took away the children’s choir and embraced the passion that they all had for this musical, and blew everyone their audience away in the process.
Chris Allen was superb as the titular character, handling the gravitas of Who’s The Thief? in fine juxtaposition to a delicate but still impressive Close Every Door. His incredible voice combined nicely with the Narrators: a part shared between the impressive duo of Lydia Aaronson and Amy Churchman. Jimmy Van Hear was an energetic Pharaoh who handled the comedy of his role with ease.
The band of brothers were confident and strong throughout, with clear and detailed characterisation and personalities. Their onstage chemistry was strong, and they provided the strongest number of the show in Those Canaan Days, led by Hannah Dunlop.
The large ensemble took on Ellen Howard’s exciting and quirky choreography with energy and commitment. They providing an impressive foil throughout the show, with Brooklyn Barber, Hattie Kemish and Emma Phelan proving particularly impressive.
Given a tough task, Annie Kershaw has put together a confident and exciting production that has fun at its core: the cast are always smiling, as were the audience. Ben Farrar ensures an excellent sounding live band accompanies the spot on vocals of the cast.
With contemporary and relevant additions – Will Jackson’s Potiphar reads a copy of TIME Magazine with his face emblazoned upon it – this production retains the enjoyable traditions of Joseph whilst ensuring it can remain current and intriguing for both die-hard fans and those who had previously only dreamed of seeing this iconic musical.
- Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Lyrics: Tim Rice
- Director: Annie Kershaw
- Choreographer: Ellen Howard
- Musical Director: Ben Farrar
- Debating Hall, University of Birmingham
- Until 28 May 2016
- Review by Harry Tennison
- 26 May 2016