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This Technicolor Musical experience has rolled into Bromley as part of its tour, which is where I was last night. First off I do love the Churchill Theatre in Bromley - lovely comfy seats and lots of legroom in the stalls! But what about the show.
Well you would have to have been living under a rock to not know the general premise of this show, mainly due to the BBC ONE show "Any Dream Will Do" which picked Lee Mead to star in the now closed, London revival of Joseph. The basic story follows the story of Joseph from the Old Testament in the Bible, but don't let that put you off if you are not religious in any way. It's a story of jealous brothers, our slightly arrogant in the beginning main character Joseph, and the story of how the brothers sell Joseph to be a slave in Egypt where the story takes a few twist and turns before they are all reunited at the end.
This is told through some of the most well known musical number in musical theatre, such as Any Dream Will Do, Close Every Door To Me and not forgetting the Elvis style Pharaoh telling us about his dreams in true Elvis fashion. Like all shows there are always bits that let it down, personally for me I hate the song Canaan Days, which is French themed (imagine stripy tops, berets and onions - yes really!) and it just seems so out of place, but that's just me.
This touring production is staged well, and the actors all give it their all, the narrator and three female actresses work so hard so hats off to the. Keith Jack is the current Joseph, he came running up behind Lee Mead in the BBC1 show and does an ok job. I did find him a little bit panto at times and sometimes had a very weird American twang to his accent; where for most of the show he was very posh!
Overall I did enjoy it, admittedly not as much as the West End version a few years back, but for a touring show its well worth seeing. The tour is rolling on to many other UK venues check for further tour dates at http://www.kenwright.com.
I have just recently taken my daughters to see the stage shows of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat - not the West End show which would have been far too expensive but the touring show which I feel very sure, having just seen it, must be just as good. I think that checking what is on at your local theatre is a great way of accessing the sorts of shows that are on in London for a fraction of the price. We saw this show at The Wycombe Swan which is a very nice theatre indeed.
The show tells the biblical story of Joseph who was his father Jacob's favourite son which annoyed his eleven brothers very much. They particularly do not like it when Joseph tells them of the dreams he has been having which makes him a much more superior person than they are. This leads them to a rather despicable action which looks like it will turn out very badly for Joseph until fate takes a favourable turn for him! The entire story is told brilliantly through song and dance and one cannot help but be entranced from the very start!
I thought that the touring show was excellent and all the players performed brilliantly. We were expecting to see Craig Chalmers (who was one of the runners up in the Any Dream will Do TV programme) but it was his understudy, Stephen Kirwan, who took the role of Joseph in the performance we saw. This did not matter one bit as he was excellent and gave a great performance from start to finish. There were no well known names in this show but there were some great performers all the same. Also, all of the actors except those playing Joseph and the narrator take on many roles each so they are all kept extremely busy. I was surprised that it was such a small cast with only 16 players in total.
There are also a large number of school children who form the choir. As these are made up of local children, I presume that there is a new choir for each venue. This seems to be such a fabulous opportunity for local children and all the ones we saw were doing a great job.
The songs, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, are very clever and tell the story well. They are also quite well known as the musical has been around since it was written in the late sixties. Songs such as Any Dream Will Do are very easy to sing along with which was what most of the audience were doing throughout the show! That was as well as clapping along and tapping their feet too!
The choreography is very good too with lots of great movements on what looked like quite a small stage. Also there are some great costumes which all contribute to a great visual spectacle.
Overall this is a fabulous show and certainly leaves you with a great feelgood feeling! Also it is not very long - the performance we saw started at 2pm and was finished by four including an interval. This makes it an ideal show for taking young children to as an introduction to theatre. Also, by going to local theatre you will save a lot of money as it can be an expensive business. Our tickets at the Wycombe Swan were about £25 each.
I really recommend this show and there are still a lot more venues in 2010. Below are the dates and venues for the rest of the tour:
22 Feb - 27 Feb Swan Theatre, High Wycombe
8 Mar - 13 Mar Rhyl Pavilion Theatre
15 Mar - 20 Mar Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
22 Mar - 27 Mar The Dome, Doncaster
29 Mar - 3 Apr The Hawth, Crawley
5 Apr - 10 Apr Regent Theatre, Ipswich
12 Apr - 17 Apr Pavilion Theatre, Worthing
19 Apr - 24 Apr Kings Theatre, Southsea
26 Apr - 1 May Regent Theatre, Stoke
10 May - 15 May Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
17 May - 22 May Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline
24 May - 5 Jun His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen
7 Jun - 12 Jun Derby Assembly Rooms
14 Jun - 19 Jun Oxford New Theatre
5 Jul - 10 Jul Salford Lowry Theatre
20 Jul - 14 Aug Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre
16 Aug - 21 Aug Plymouth Theatre Royal
23 Aug - 11 Sep Birmingham Hippodrome
This is a great musical for all ages and makes a fantastic introduction for children in the the world of musicals. My 2 year old cousin was taken to see it and she then proceeded to wander around the house in her nappy for the next few weeks being Joseph and singing the songs - admit it you are going to know at least two - Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do.
As the title suggests it is a modern day version of the biblical story and is a feelgood, colourful show. It achieves this whilst still retaining the original story from the Old Testament. Amazingly Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice started to write this show in 1968 and originally it was only 15 minutes long. It now runs at just under 2 hours - my one critisim would be that some songs are repeated a little too much, perhaps to justify the ticket prices particularly in the West End where tickets can cost up to £49.50. This show does constantly tour the country also and ticket prices can be more reasonable there.
Currently playing the title role are Gareth Gates in the West End and Craig Chalmers (he was a contestant in the BBC Joseph search) in the touring version. Gareth has just taken over the role from Lee Mead who won the BBC show. My last Joseph was Lee who was excellent, but I have to say that every Joseph that I have been to see has brought something slightly different to the performance and I have enjoyed all of their performances.
We are led through the story by the narrator which helps make the story easily understood and links the scenes together. The Pharaoh bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain King of Rock and Roll and has a new song in the show King of My Heart, again I don't know if the show needed this. The show cleverly uses many styles of music - calypso, rock and roll, western, ballads and disco to name a few so there is sure to be something to suit all tastes.
If you are looking for an upbeat, fun show that will leave you with a smile in your face this is one of the best.
I am something of a musical buff, and have in fact seen Joseph twice before (in each case a touring production). Frankly I wasn't expecting too much of this one - a bit 'been there, done that' if you like. I was pleasantly surprised with elements of it.
These days the show is all about the stars of 'Any Dream Will Do'. The usual star of this is Craig Chalmers, the blond Scottish cheery chappie who came 4th (approx!). We deliberately went when his understudy was on, Alastair Brammer who just missed the live shows, as he is a friend of one of our party. I have to say, I thought he really was excellent. He looked the part, sang every word clearly and gave the role (which can be a rther simplistic one) some real moments of drama and real humour. Definitely one to watch for the future (I promise I'm not biased - I'd never met the guy before in my life and missed him on the tv programme).
I can't say the same for his fellow graduate of Any Dream, Anthony Hansen playing the role of the Pharoah. The role has been beefed up for the revival, adding an extra song. Anthony mumbled his way through both his numbers, largely sung in the key of 'pick a key, any key' and we faield to understand nearly anything he sang. Halfway through his second number it appeared as if he had given up. Perhaps he was just having a bad day, but it wasn't much to shout about either way.
Tara Bethan of 'I'd Do Anything' fame was playing the narrator (I believe Keith Jack is the alternate). Whilst she wasn't awful she was rather bland. If you ever saw her perform on the show, she was cheesy, cheeryand not much else. She did that all the way through. Pleasant enough, but not very inspiring.
But all in all, the show is good value for money. The children and supporting cast were great. The scenery is a little dated these days, but it is a touring production after all, and the songs stand the test of time making it good family fun. Who can ever forget the immortal line ' All those things you saw in your pyjamas were a long range forecast for your farmers'?! So whilst I wouldn't pay London prices to see it, for a nice gentle day out it gets a thumbs up from me.