Joseph at Storyhouse 16th April 2019
Thanks to our reviewer:
Way, way back many centuries ago … well in 1973 … I sang Joseph with my school choir on BBC Radio Leeds. Actually, we sang the 35 minute musical version which it had become after being written as a 15 minute pop cantata for schools in 1968. Over the years, like many other musicals, Joseph has evolved to the extravaganza it now is and a vehicle for stars such as Jason Donovan and Philip Schofield. It would be hard to imagine either of them packing an emotional and vocal punch to match Jaymi Hensley in last night’s production at Storyhouse Chester.
A rapturous audience was up on its feet clapping, cheering, boogying and singing during the encore, which seemed appropriate as it was World Voice Day. And what voices there were on display from this large, multi-roling ensemble cast, ably backed by 32 singing children from Stagecoach, directed by George Partington. The children assisted the narrator, Trina Hill, in telling Joseph’s story. This device of local kiddie chorus not only harks back to the original schools’ version, but adds texture, delight and lots of proud relatives on the plush seating. They were rewarded by the children opening act two with an energetic medley and their singing and stage discipline was impeccable throughout.
Trina Hill was like everyone’s favourite primary school teacher, the narrator of the story, unseen by the cast, taking us all on a colourful, fast-moving journey with her versatile voice and expressive face.
The choreography, originally by Henry Metcalfe (who played Jacob and Potiphar to great effect) and added to by Gary Lloyd made this a fast-paced feast for the eyes while Andrew Lloyd Webber’s timeless music, directed by Rich Morris, continued to thrill.
The production had us whizzing through centuries and continents where we saw the Eiffel Tower, the Caribbean, 1920s dance, cheerleaders and 1950s teddy boys, complete with Elvis the Pharaoh, Andrew Geater in lip-curling, sonorous form. And while the story was really set in Canaan and Egypt the time and place travel served to underline the universal themes of sibling rivalry and parental favouritism.
Tim Rice’s lyrics flow which such simplicity you feel you could have written them yourself. Only you couldn’t. He is a genius. I still love ‘And now this coat had got their goat’ and ‘I shall now take them all for a ride. After all they have tried fratricide.’
The top quality band inspired the audience to sing along in the overture as well as get up and dance at the end. As we move through Holy Week, who would have thought religion could be this much fun?
Tickets : https://www.storyhouse.com/event/joseph