UK Tour Reviews & Interviews 2019
The Hippodrome, Birmingham
2nd - 13th July 2019
Lauren Cole

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is legendary and astonishing

Bold, bright and breathtaking! Legendary family musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat brought endless laughter and an astonishing feelgood factor to Birmingham Hippodrome last night.

The biblical story of Joseph, his treacherous brothers (who sell him to be a slave in Egypt) and a spangly coat of many colours was long ago turned into a loud’n’proud musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

The touring production is always on a smaller scale than its West End counterpart, but it still makes for a dazzling evening of family entertainment. Everyone was very interested to see how former Union J member Jaymi Hensley would fare as Joseph, a role which sees him walking in the footsteps of Jason Donovan, Lee Mead and Joe McElderry, to name but a few. It’s fair to say that I was impressed, his near-perfect technical performance brilliantly showcasing a voice that is absolutely made for musical theatre.

I did feel, however, that Jaymi’s emotional performance was somewhat lacking in act one - I expected to be far more moved than I was by Close Every Door.

He certainly stepped it up in act two, though, bringing out Joseph’s cheeky side and very much rising to the occasion in the emotional scene where he reunites with his father.

Another little niggle I had with this particular version of the show was the decision to have the Narrator sing so high. Trina Hill has a beautiful, powerful voice that really captivated the audience in the parts where she was able to sing lower, so it was disappointing that the pitch she was pushed to on occasion was a little uncomfortable on the ear.

The remainder of the cast were faultless. Joseph’s brothers, dad Jacob, the pharaoh and the handmaidens were all presented with style, enthusiasm and flare. A special mention must go to Matt Jolly for his performance as Gad. He was the stand-out showman and vocalist amongst Joseph’s brothers, particularly in Those Canaan Days.

Overall, this latest production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat certainly doesn’t disappoint. Whether this is the first or 10th time you’ve seen the musical, I can guarantee you’ll be up on your feet singing and dancing to the Joseph megamix!

©Birmingham Whats On 2019

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Pamela Raith    ©BKL Productions
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The Hippodrome, Birmingham
2nd - 13th July 2019
Dave Massey

The 2019 UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat swoops into Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 13th July, starring the fantastic Jaymi Hensley as Joseph.

Narrator (Trina Hill) introduces two children (and the audience) to the world of dreamer Joseph (Jaymi Hensley) his eleven brothers and their father Jacob (Henry Metcalfe).

Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph, their father Jacob’s favourite son, and most of the brothers pretend Joseph has been killed – they mark his multicoloured coat (the Dreamcoat) with animal blood. Joseph finds himself in prison until he meets the Pharaoh (Andrew Geater) who realises Joseph can interpret people’s dreams as prophecy. He returns to the brother’s land as famine has arrived…

Jaymi Hensley delivers a definitive Joseph as he follows in the footsteps of Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield and Darren Day (Fact Fans: Darren worked with Jaymi at Birmingham Hippodrome’s BrumPanto last Christmas when Jaymi was Peter Pan). Jaymi’s vocals and stage presence make this singer-turned-actor into one to watch in the future.

This is a fun filled production featuring inflatable sheep, a talking camel, an Elvis impersonating Pharaoh, the Eiffel Tower, plus homages to Sister Act, Phantom of the Opera and Chicago.

Yes, this is the updated version of the musical, and whilst the staging remains straightforward with two static staircases to each side and a moving staircase in the centre, our narrator tells us about the world of Joseph with easy to understand visuals – like the Pharaoh as a superstar to his people and Joseph’s brothers behaving like cowboys of the frontier.

At two hours and ten minutes including interval, this is one of the shortest musicals with a traditional overture which slightly confused the Birmingham audience on arrival. The second half features a reprise from a children’s choir and ends with a megamix!

There is very little dialogue in the story, so paying attention to the lyrics is a must. Content wise it’s really not suitable for primary school kids unless you are fully prepared to explain what you see.

I first saw Joseph at the Hippodrome in the late 1980’s and it was a joy to see this version yesterday.

The Hippodrome, Birmingham
3rd July 2019
Jeff Grant

For a musical that was first performed way back in 1968, as an educational production designed for schools, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has certainly found its way out of the classroom, becoming as huge an icon of musical theatre as the pyramids themselves.
This current touring incarnation is an awe inspiring production that assaults the senses with colour, energy, humour and a massive dose of the feel good factor.

However, the original bible story of Joseph, son of Jacob, and his eleven brothers is almost buried under the showbiz antics of this Rice and Lloyd Webber classic, due to the sheer weight of the glossy entertainment layers that have been applied to it. The original musical parodies have been so perfected now to the extreme, that the result is more Monty Python than Biblical.
Stepping into the role and shouldering the coat is Union J's Jaymi Hensley who quite honestly delivers a superb and massively confident performance, shattering anyone’s expectations of some flimsy boy band member.

Exuding a musical theatre confidence beyond his years he delivers a powerful and emotional performance that captivates the audience with its intensity. To say that he has a good voice is an understatement as he has clearly undergone some impressive training to change his pop style for this shift into musical theatre. Looking like a young John Barrowman with a voice to match, he clearly has set a path to future stardom in this genre.

Another pivotal role is that of the narrator played by Trina Hill who also rose to the occasion with her clear powerful voice even topping the huge sound of the band led by Jeremy Wootton. In fact the music production was one of the things that contributed so much to the power and energy of the show in that it needed some pretty impressive vocal work to rise above it. Many of the songs were supported by an excellent choir of local children and Trina Hill seemed to connect with them much to the delight of the audience.

Henry Metcalfe played a frail Jacob and his reunion scene with Joseph was touching and heartfelt. A real scene stealer is Andrew Geater as the Pharaoh King the Elvis lookalike who fully embodies the persona of Elvis, lip included, even if it was hard to hear what he was actually singing.

That fact seemed to be the case when Joseph himself asks for a recap so he can get his dream analysed. Although stated that the spectacular staging of this touring show is a long way from any school hall production it was down to the performance of Jaymi Hensley to reflect the core message.

His focus on the character seemed to be the only part that carried what is at its heart an emotional story of separation, envy and family. It’s more Broadway now than ever and whilst the younger audience might not get the relevance of Elvis or some of the pastiche musical references it’s still packed with a rich entertainment value that exceeds anything you might have ever seen before.

©Behind The Arras 2019
The Hippodrome, Birmingham
3rd July 2019
Dan Richards

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is one of the most performed musicals of all time. Based on the story from the Bible's Book of Genesis it was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly.

With very little dialogue, almost back to back songs, family-friendly storyline and catchy music, it's clear to see why there have been so many productions around the world.

The plot is simple; Joseph is his fathers favourite son, he gets shunned by his brothers who sell him to an Egyptian Pharaoh and tell their father he was killed. The Pharaoh initially imprisons him, but - after Joseph helps the country - he's set free and made second in command which helps him teach his brothers a lesson.

Whilst it may be straight forward, the show has stood the test of time, having been performed by well over 25,000 amateur groups - let alone professional runs.

However popularity can also be a shows achilles heel. Joseph is very much an 'old skool', safe show, with a very much more conservative nature about it than some of the productions gracing the West End stage at the moment. However it's stood the test of time well which made it all the more interesting to see what this production held in store.

The set is comparatively simple, but far reimagined in comparison to the normal staging afforded to this show.

Adorning the steps are - as is tradition for Joseph - a choir of school children who provide backing vocals for the majority of the songs. You can't generally go too far wrong with kids; the cute factor is a winner most of the time, but the confidence they showed and the passion on their faces made them a credit to the team.

With a strong supporting cast behind him, X Factor winner turned stage star, Jaymi Hensley, takes on the role of Joseph. This is where the other potential stumbling block occurs - Joseph is synonymous with 4 leading men; Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield, Donny Osmond and (more recently) Lee Mead. All have played the role to critical acclaim in the West End and you could feel the trepidation when you walked into the auditorium.

But within the first ten minutes, any worries were thrown out of the window.

Hensley is, quite simply, sensational. His acting prowess is growing with each role he takes on and his voice is exquisite. Sometimes, when your part of a boy-band, your vocals can merge with the other members and you can almost become a 'decent' singer. It's not until you get the chance to perform in such an exposed environment that your true talent can shine - and that's never been more true than with Jaymi Hensley this evening.

Having sat on Youtube and watched many others sing the songs of Joseph, I think Hensley's performance ranks as one of the best I've ever heard. Each and every person who questions the ability of 'a popstar' had their minds blown with one audience member sitting with her mouth wide open in amazement. His rendition of 'Close Every Door', in particular was a stunning, poignant piece of theatre which had so many people reaching for a tissue.

Trina Hill is another person who shone this evening, excelling in the role of the narrator and very much taking it back to the traditional roots of Linzi Hatley's 90s interpretation. With an outstanding soprano voice, she controlled the action and led us through the story with such ease you'd think she'd been singing the role for a lifetime. A key trait of the character is to act with an almost motherly instinct to the choir, who sit as though they're listening to her storytelling. She had that instinct in droves in a slick and well rehearsed part. She made the role of the narrator incredibly special tonight and should be applauded for that.

©Black Country Radio 2019
The Hippodrome, Birmingham
4th July 2019
William Stafford

The only problem with this show, the first collaboration between Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, is its brevity.  Having start out as a 20-minute piece for a school assembly, the running time has been expanded by the addition of new songs in order to reach a more conventional length for a night out at the theatre.  Some of the additions add little more than repetition.  We get previews of songs before they appear in the storyline.  We get reprises and reprises.  Joseph’s coat begins to feel like a padded jacket.

But beneath the padding, there is the kernel of brilliance.  Rice’s witty lyrics and Lloyd Webber’s score of many colours are at their finest here.  Name another Lloyd Webber show that has such a range of melodies.  Answers on a postcard, please.

The show hinges on its leading man and here, in Jaymi Hensley, it has one of the best I’ve seen.   Hensley’s vocals are richly textured and infused with emotion.  His Close Every Door is breath-taking – it’s the show’s best number and, mercifully, is not reprised to death.  Hensley’s acting matches the quality of his singing.  He is expressive and funny, his reactions fleshing out the part: some Josephs can be arrogant and smug; Hensley combines strength with vulnerability.  He also looks great in the loincloth.

As the narrator, Trina Hill is at her best when belting out, rock-star style.  At times she is swamped by the action and you wonder where her voice is coming from.  Andrew Geater’s Pharaoh replicates Elvis’s intonations – to the point of losing a little clarity.  Even Joseph has to ask him to repeat himself.  Geater pulls it off through energy and commitment.  (At the time of the original production, Elvis was very much still in the building, and the show pastiched popular music genres of the day.  Now its references may be dated, and its satire diminished but it’s still a lot of fun.)

Henry Metcalfe is not only a dignified Jacob and an elegant Potiphar, he also choreographed the production.  With new moves by Gary Lloyd, the dancing is slick, sharp and funny too.  The pas de deux in Those Canaan Days is as impressive as it is anachronistic.  Mrs Potiphar (Amber Kennedy) is a glamorous cougar, stalking her prey.  It’s the anachronisms that make the show endearing and somehow timeless.  The French ballad, the cowboy song, the calypso.  This show is bonkers.  Some might say post-modern.

Among the lyrical and musical wittiness, the power of the story comes through.  The reunion scenes have the power to move – director Bill Kenwright wisely includes moments of silence as events impact on the characters, and Hensley’s Any Dream Will Do, when it is performed in the context of the story, is a tear-jerker.

This production does the material justice, with a superlative ensemble of brothers, wives, and a highly disciplined children’s choir.  But it’s Hensley’s star that shines brightest.


©Bum on a seat 2019
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The Hippodrome, Birmingham
4th July 2019
Midlands Zone

Go, go, go, Joseph! Jaymi Hensley gives star turn as hit touring musical stops off in Birmingham

Out-and-proud Jaymi Hensley has unveiled his Joseph holy trinity: an angelic voice, a cheeky persona and an impressive acting talent!

Jaymi was in fine form from the moment he stepped out on stage, flashing a winning smile and showcasing a truly astounding pitch-perfect voice. I’m very glad to see that his amazing vocal isn’t going to waste in the wake of Union J’s split.

Jaymi also brilliantly brought out his character’s cheeky side, particularly when in the company of Andrew Geater as the fabulous hip-swinging Pharaoh.

Joseph’s band of brothers were in fine fettle too, their voices blending together beautifully as they sung with commendable clarity and perfectly synchronised their choreography.

It very much looked as if all the cast enjoyed every second of being on stage, generating a feelgood factor that the audience was only too happy to buy into, particularly when the Joseph Megamix provided a fantastic opportunity to get up and dance!

Did anything about the show disappoint me? Well, I think the vocals of the Narrator, Trina Hill, could have been showcased better. Trina undoubtedly has a wonderful voice, but the top end of her range made for uncomfortable listening. She was definitely at her best when harmonising with Jaymi, or when allowed to sing slightly lower.

This production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is, just as the lead character sings about himself, a ‘walking work of art’. It isn’t without its imperfections, but if last night is anything to go by, Birmingham loves it all the same! Go, go, go Joseph! 

©Midlands Zone 2019
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THe Hippodrome, Birmingham
3rd July 2019
Dress Circle Antics

Continues to endure and delight audiences old and new

Since its West End premiere in 1973 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has enjoyed unparalleled success. The show is currently in the throes of a resurgence with Bill Kenwright and Really Useful Group’s UK tour delighting audiences across the country. London audiences are also enjoying a big budget revival, starring former Joseph, Jason Donovan, in the role of Pharaoh. 

Joseph, a sung-through musical with music and lyrics by creative legends Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, is based on the ‘coat of many colours’ story from the Bible’s book of Genesis. Arrogant in the knowledge he is the favourite of his father’s 12 sons, Joseph’s brothers’ jealousy is amplified when Jacob presents his son with the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Livid at the blatant favouritism, the brother’s conspire to kill Joseph, before deciding to cash in, selling him into slavery. Eventually, Joseph finds himself in Egypt and right-hand man to the Pharaoh.

Joseph is a classic, family friendly musical; its familiarity is like an old friend and is partly why the show continues to endure. However, despite Gary Lloyd’s revamped choreography this production is a carbon copy of those that came before it, which unfortunately is to its detriment.

Joseph was initially presented as a 15 minute ‘pop cantata’ at a school in London in 1968. Later incarnations of the show have included new songs, developed to expand the length of the piece to sit more comfortably in a traditional theatrical format. The 1999 direct-to-video film starring Donny Osmond has a running time of 76 minutes. The problem with this production is the unnecessary amount of fillers used as a ruse to pad out the running time of the show.

We begin with a long instrumental overture, which drags despite showcasing the talent of the accomplished orchestra. The second act opens with a similar theme, this time the score repeated by the beautifully disciplined local children’s choir of Birmingham’s School of Theatre Excellence. Bordering on pantomime, the show concludes with the Joseph Megamix Reprises. With the format and formula of Joseph tried, tested and loved by so many it is hard to be critical, yet the instrumental fillers do begin to feel somewhat forced and unnecessary. 

With shows such as Come From Away and SIX the Musical successfully adopting a straight-through format, Joseph is crying out for a similar approach. The flow of the piece would undoubtedly benefit from this type of reinvention, freshening it up and reimagining it for a modern audience.

Union J’s Jaymi Hensley steps into the iconic coat and immediately demonstrates that Kenwright’s casting for this tour is spot on. He is a wonderfully endearing Joseph, his vocals are at times operatic and his solo of Close Every Door is spine-tingly beautiful. He is complemented in droves by Trina Hill as the Narrator who herself has an incredibly rich voice. The Narrator is a challenging role but Hill confidently and successfully manages to hang the narrative together whilst delivering her numbers with poise and assurance.

Joseph veteran Henry Metcalfe returns to the dual role of Jacob / Potiphar and shines in both. It’s easy to see that this role is a complete joy for him and this translates to his performance. The collective of brothers is undeniably strong with Alex Hetherington standing out as Benjamin. It’s the numbers where the brothers feature that the slick new choreography comes into its own.

Ed Tunningley and Lewis Asquith provide solid turns in their roles of the Baker and the Butler, Asquith in particular, a delight. Andrew Geater elicits some of the biggest cheers of the night thanks to his lively portrayal of the animated Pharaoh struggling to make sense of his confusing dreams. Channelling his inner Elvis, Geater delivers the Pharaoh’s signature number Song of the King with infectious enthusiasm and incredible energy.

Whilst technically this production of Joseph is not the best that you will see, it still packs a punch with its iconic score and the beautifully bright stage design by Sean Cavanagh, complemented by clever lighting from Nick Richings. The large and expansive stage of the Hippodrome suits the production to a tee and what the show lacks in substance it makes up for in fun, frolics and exuberance. It is also a tremendous opportunity to introduce younger audiences to the theatre.

©Dress Circle Antics
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The Hippodrome, Birmingham
4th July 2019
Bethan In Brum

I’ll be honest, Any Dream Will Do is by far one of my favourite songs of all time. In fact, there’s not many songs from the musical that I don’t absolutely adore. As a child, I used to watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat on a weekly basis and it’s the show I’ve seen the most on stage. It’s colourful, whacky, packed full of fantastic numbers and is a fun, family friendly show.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was the first musical written by duo Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber back in the 1970s. Five decades later, the musical is still going strong, being the longest touring show in history. But being the musical that launched the careers for the likes of Jason Donovan, Philip Schofield and more recently, Lee Mead.

So the big question of the night was always going to be if Union J’s Jaymi Hensley was going to be the next successful Joseph.

Taken from the Book of Genesis, the story follows Joseph, a talent young man who has been gifted the talent of being able to tell those around them what their dreams mean. Being the most successful son of Jacob, who is father to 11 sons, Joseph’s brothers grow incredibly jealous who eventually sell their brother into slavery after Jacob gifts Joseph the most beautiful technicolour coat.

Joseph ends up in Egypt, where he ends up in jail before his luck strikes in his favour and becomes a personal assistant to the Pharaoh. Joseph eventually reunites with his family, but not before teaching them a lesson or two.

The production is packed full of a hugely talented cast, who were all absolutely fantastic singers, which of course really helps the show as every single inch of the script is music. Union J’s Jaymi Hensley was absolutely incredible as Joseph; he was enthusiastic and simply made the role his own. I was absolutely shocked by his beautiful voice. I think being in a boyband, I didn’t expect his voice to be as good as it was. But it was simply stunning, and also very good at acting naïve, scared and incredibly powerful.

One part of the musical I have always loved in Joseph is the Narrator role. This time, it was taken on by Trina Hill, who was absolutely brilliant with a fantastic voice and so much charisma. The real stars of the show though were the fantastic children’s choir, who sat on the stage for the whole show and sang along to every word of the musical. They were absolutely adorable, and so very talented.
The sets were fairly simple but anything over the top really wasn’t needed. Scenes flowed very easily and there wasn’t too much of a gap between them. The biggest highlight of the show was of course the music, which was so nostalgic and brought back so many wonderful memories.

Alongside Any Dream Will Do, the musical also included all the hits, like One More Angel in Heaven, Go, Go, Go Joseph and Jacob and Sons.

One of the only issues I faced with the production was that the sound at times was really off. At times, I could barely hear the person on stage, and then other times it was just far too loud. This didn’t make it any less enjoyable, but I do hope the crew picked up on this too!

Overall though, the show was incredibly enjoyable, super fun, enthusiastic, and such a wonderful and nostalgic way to spend an evening, and we can absolutely expect to see Jaymi Hensley take to the stage in more productions in the future!

©2019 Bethan In Brum
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New Theatre, Oxford
17th July 2019
Weekend Tourist

I’d not seen any other productions of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, so I was excited to hear that Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would be in Oxford this week, with Jaymi Hensley, from the band Union J, in the lead role.

Press night also coincided with the launch of the theatre’s revamped Balcony Bar, now christened the Wonder Bar and now sports a fetching, Oxford appropriate Alice in Wonderland theme. It’s been nicely done with the odd teacup and playing card detail, but still with comfy seating – it’s worth visiting especially if you’re early for a performance. Although be warned, you’ll have to climb the three sets of stairs.

We went enmass with my parents and Tom’s Mum also joining us for Joseph. Of all of us, Tom’s mum had seen Jason Donovan in the lead role back in the day and was the most familiar with the musical. Although I think everyone did the ‘aaaaaahhh’ bit as part of a school choir during ‘Any Dream Will Do’.  Also the school choir during this performance was great.

I think it was fair to say that this production was more ‘reimagined’ than we’d expected. Joseph and his brothers were suitably clad as you would expect for biblical figures, like better versions of the shepherds from any school nativity.  And there was a distinct Egyptian vibe, but more The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas.

A lot of the numbers had added extras too –  the classic Poor Poor Joseph had the brothers’ don stetsons for a wild west beat, whilst during the brothers’ later repent, they wore Mexican-theme costumes for ‘Benjamin Calypso’. And lastly, Pharaoh (played by Andrew Geator) emerged as the King, as in Elvis, with a rhinestone enhanced jumpsuit, but with Cleopatra eye makeup.

For me, the best bit was Jaymi’s rendition of ‘Close Every Door to Me’, it was heartfelt and had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.  The cast were all very good with excellent voices and super dance numbers. All in all, it was an extremely jolly performance, a bit panto-esque, but the audience was all on board, including us, once we got over the shock of Elvis appearing in biblical Egypt.

©2019 Weekend Tourist
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New Theatre, Oxford
17th July 2019
Anna Dominey

With its bright displays and desert setting, the celebratory atmosphere created by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat makes this production feel like a perfect show for the summer, even if the inevitable dancing along seems inadvisable in the heat! After sampling the delights of the New Theatre's newly-opened Mad Hatter-themed Wonderbar, including a few of their potent new cocktails, I made my way down to the auditorium in time to enjoy, prior to curtain-up, a play through of some of the musical's hits to get the audience in the mood.

The story is well-known, as are most of the catchy numbers, so it is impressive that in a production that has remained largely unchanged for several decades, based on an ancient legend, there are still new things to enjoy. This was reflected by the age-diversity of the crowd: while there were lots of school groups, their numbers were matched by adults who didn't need kids as an excuse to catch this beloved show. The first and last time I saw Joseph live, I was ten at most, and it was fun to notice details that had gone completely over my head as child. For example, when Joseph describes the sheaves of corn in his dream, he boasts that his are bigger than his brothers', in a way that is definitely an adult joke, skilfully hidden within the more family-friendly elements!

Of course, to avoid a longstanding production like this becoming tired, quite a lot of responsibility falls on the actors, and our cast did not fail to deliver. It may be his debut in a musical, but Jaymi Hensely slotted comfortably into the starring role, with a quality and passion to his voice that gave the character more depth than I initially anticipated - a sign of his Brit School training. Trina Hill as the narrator held her own for the most part, hitting some awesomely high notes, though very occasionally faltering to jarring effect. The multi-talented Henry Metcalfe - also the show's choreographer - brought a lot of comedy as the bumbling, slightly sleazy old fool Jacob, and the children of the chorus were pitch- and picture-perfect. For me, though, the best performances were from the band of brothers, who formed an ensemble cast to enrich the background characters as well, each infused with energy and personality. Joshua Robinson particularly stood out in this respect. Having 11 varied male voices serves many of the songs well, providing rich harmonies and eye-catching choreography.

I could quibble at the occasional out-of-date humour, the lack of three-dimensional women and the racial inaccuracies (and indeed during the interval I did overhear someone utter the phrase 'cultural appropriation') but that would be rather to miss the point: the aim of this show is not to present a moral message. With its playful mix of musical styles, overwhelming number of costume changes and all-round implausibility (including a Mighty Boosh-esque moment where a sphinx joins in the singing), this is a show which doesn't take itself too seriously. So if you dive in and go along with the silliness, it's a fun adventure for kids and a multicolour moment of escapism for grown ups, all served up with an undeniably catchy soundtrack.

©2019 Daily Information Ltd
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New Theatre, Oxford
17th July 2019
Kathryn Hart

New Theatre, Oxford this week welcomes the iconic musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to its stage.

New Theatre is situated in the heart of Oxford’s City and has been on the site for almost 200 years. It has to be one of the most welcoming theatres I’ve visited, and I would thoroughly recommend arriving early and enjoying a relaxing pre-theatre drink in either the piano bar or the newly refurbished Wonder Bar. It is also worth a mention that despite it being a very warm summer evening, the theatre was comfortably cool, very much appreciated.

There will be very few people who have not seen or heard the incredible story from Genesis of Joseph, brought to us in the musical form, penned by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber as it is a popular choice for so many school productions and theatre groups. This UK touring production by Bill Kenwright (Producer/Director) however is a technicolor spectacle to behold.

The story follows Joseph, one of twelve sons to Jacob, and most definitely the favourite. This favouritism brewed a jealousy in his siblings, especially when Jacob presents Joseph with a beautiful coloured coat. The final straw however, was when Joseph a prolific dreamer, shared with his brothers one of his dreams portraying his brothers bowing down to him. This enraged them and they plotted to kill him. They bound him and took him away but before killing him they met some travelling merchants. Seeing a way to make some money, they sold Joseph as a slave. We see Joseph’s struggles, and watch, as through his gift of interpreting dreams, he finds his way to the presence of Pharaoh himself who has been troubled by a dream. Joseph earns the respect of Pharaoh and is appointed second in charge. In a twist of fate, his brothers poor, and hungry, travel to Egypt to seek food and end up fulfilling Joseph’s dream when they are unknowingly bowing down before him to plead for food. After testing his brothers, Joseph sees their hearts have been changed, and he reveals his identity and they return bringing Jacob with them to reunite the family.

Joseph was played by the very talented Jaymi Hensley (a member of the British boy band Union J). This role has previously been played by some very high-profile personalities, so I should imagine this can be quite a daunting prospect. Jaymi absolutely nailed it last evening – his likeable personality shone through, and his vocals were incredible. He brought to the role an individuality, and the moment at the end where he was reunited with his ageing father was beautifully moving.

The story is told through the voice of a narrator and it is a role that requires you to move in and out of scenes with a presence that is almost unseen at times. Trina Hill executed this with such skill and precision and demonstrated to us her fantastic vocal ability.

Probably my favourite of the evening had to be Andrew Geater in his role of Pharaoh – portraying ‘The King’ of Rock and Roll. I’m sure there was not a single person in the theatre who didn’t want to get up and rock along with him.

Of course, I cannot omit to mention the Joseph choir who were provided by Stagecoach Performing Arts. Their presence really enhanced the performance – who can fail to be moved by the voices of children singing? And they sat so perfectly still all through.

To bring a show together like this is the result of a lot of hard work by those on stage, but also those who work tirelessly off stage – the musicians, production team, choreography, lighting, sound, etc. Thank you for bringing New Theatre Oxford to life – the energy and enthusiasm emitting from the stage last evening was amazing – and the Joseph Megamix had us all up on our feet dancing and singing along. I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the New Theatre this week – it has to be the very best tonic and will bring a little technicolour to your week.

©2019 Whats Good To Do
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New Theatre, Oxford
17th July 2019
Tim Hughes

Big, brash, camp and terrifically good fun, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat cannot fail to leave you with a grin as wide as the Nile.

This superlative production, with former Union J star Jaymi Hensley in the title role, is sheer good fun from the moment the curtain rises on the delightfully garish set.

The show is probably the most fun of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stable of musicals, and this loud and luridly coloured production is as good as any – with X Factor star Jaymi second only to Jason Donovan who, to be fair, has made the part his own.

Jaymi does, however, have the unfair advantage of age, which better suits the role and is more in keeping with the Biblical tale of the outcast brother who finds himself enslaved in Egypt – because we all know you can’t skimp on theological integrity.

Jaymi is a real heartthrob and seems made for the part. He looks great, with boyish good looks, a decent set of abs which he is not afraid to flaunt, and a tremendous voice. For a relative newcomer to musical theatre, he is also relaxed and seems to be absolutely loving it.

Oh, and the boy can sing. Man, can he sing.

The story itself needs little introduction, but if you haven’t seen it for a while, you’re in for a treat, with some absolutely ridiculous segues into surreal set pieces – including a French section complete with stripy tops and berets, a cowboy country & western set and a fine Elvis interpretation by Pharaoh (Andrew Geater).

Consistently brilliant is the narrator, Trina Hill, who pulls it all together with a knowing wink.

It’s all utterly nuts, of course, but the music is first class and the stage direction and choreography is, to borrow from the Good Book, a revelation.

If you are in the mood for a giggle, get yourself along– you’ll love it. If you are feeling jaded or under the weather, then get yourself to George Street even quicker – because this is just the antidote to the blues.

All together now: "Give me my coloured coat....!"

© Newsquest Media Group Ltd 2019
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