Having seen and loved this musical several years ago I was looking forward to this new touring show produced and directed by Bill Kenwright and by arrangement with The Really Useful Company. With lyrics by Tim Rice and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and a success story that spans back to the 1970's many of the songs are well known even to those that have not seen the musical before.
There have been numerous cast changes and 'Josephs' over the years each making the character their own and this production features Jaymi Hensley of X Factor band Union J, in the lead role, however, on this press evening, it was unusual and a slight disappointment to hear that understudy Tom Bainbridge would be taking the lead. The orchestra under the musical direction of Mike Steel start the show off with a medley of songs from the show building the anticipation.
Narrated by Alexandra Doar, we are introduced to Jacob (James Head) and his twelve sons and the jealousy between the sibling’s increases when their father favours Joseph and presents him with a coat of many colours. ('Jacob and Sons') Joseph interprets dreams and reveals he is destined to rule over the brothers which enrages them and desperate to prevent that happening they sell him on into slavery and he is transported to Egypt. ('Poor Poor Joseph') They tell the distraught Jacob that Joseph has been killed and show him the remains of his tattered coat now covered in his blood. (They sacrificed a goat and used this to convince him). The story continues taking us on Joseph’s journey as a slave after being bought by Potiphar (again James Head), rising through the ranks of the household before being imprisoned when Potiphar becomes aware of his wife’s interest in Joseph. There follows a surreal tale which includes a Pharaoh in the form of Elvis (Andrew Geater), trips to Paris and the Eiffel Tower, Calypso and country music! Yes it's a Biblical tale, but like nothing you would ever envisage and works extremely well. Geaters charisma as the Pharaoh shines through with all the mannerisms of the 'King'!
Any doubts about Bainbridge rising to the role are immediately shed, his performance is superb throughout and you could hear a pin drop as he sang 'Close Every Door' with such emotion, bringing a tear to my eye. It is surprising to hear Doar is making her professional debut In Joseph. She narrates with humour, passion and personality. Her voice is clear, singing/narrating beautifully and a real asset to the show engaging with the audience and the wonderful children’s choir (Performers Theatre School) who are ever present on stage. I predict we will be seeing a lot more of this young lady!
'Joseph' is a vibrant fast paced show with a cast that work incredibly hard, acting out several roles each, with numerous fabulous costume changes. Choreography covers just about every dance style and everyone's performance is sublime. (Original choreography Henry Metcalfe with additional new choreography by Gary Lloyd.) On each side of the stage is a staircase almost forming a pyramid shape which is where the choir are seated for most of the show, From this emerges scenery changes and along with colourful lighting, is most effective and executed seamlessly.
For a show with such a large cast you do feel a connection with the characters, there isn't a weak link vocally in anyone's performance and the 'brothers' bring comedy and tragedy to the stage with enthusiasm. An outstanding production worthy of the lyrics from One More Angel in Heaven.... 'One More Star'.
The show continues until 23rd November with matinee performances. For tickets and further information contact: http://www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com/show/?show_id=873604768
Reviewer: Lorna Weekes
Reviewed: 19th November 2019
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★