The last time I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was the Waimea College production in 1978. A solid, well-performed traditional production.
However, the Nelson Youth Theatre version I saw last night was a different show altogether with an eclectic variety of songs and dance numbers ranging from rock ‘n roll to country and western, French ballad, calypso and jazz. It was a vibrant, re-telling of the classic by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and the young cast was clearly having a lot of fun with it – as was the audience. The show has little spoken dialogue; it is almost entirely sung-through by two narrators, Jacob’s wives who changed with the scene, as well as the cast themselves. Most of the songs were duets or choral numbers, which provided a great platform for many new younger performers.
There was also a lot of humour throughout, with the narrators referencing the bible to comfort Joseph during song ‘Go, Go, Go Joseph’ – “we’ve read the book and you come out on top” – the comedic Elvis-esque Pharaoh delightfully played by Ryan Chilton, and even camels chasing hippies.
Jack Munro had great presence and commanded the stage well as Joseph. A strong performance throughout, he saved his best for last bringing the house down with his heartfelt rendition of ‘Any Dream Will Do’. The show similarly opened on a high with Emma Munro (no relation to Jack), one of Jacob’s wives, powerfully leading ‘Jacob and Sons’.
The talent wasn’t limited to on-stage, with 14-year-old Alex Jensen leading the choreography of a wide range of dance styles, as well as assisting with make-up and playing one of Jacob’s wives and a narrator.
Directed by Richard Carruthers with Jim Wiseman as musical director, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is on at the Theatre Royal from Sunday, November 26 to Saturday, December 2. Tickets are available from www.ticketdirect.co.nz or the Theatre Royal.
The show is only 60 minutes long with no intermission, so is perfect for all ages and not a late night. There is one matinee show on December 2.