Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - The Grange Theatre, Oldham.

This afternoon, I saw a youth theatre production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. This musical was originally written for schools and to be performed by pupils, before its transformation into the West End mega hit it has become. It's wonderful to watch this musical in its original context. Children of various ages, ethnicities, and abilities were joined together by the power of theatre.
Based on the story in the Book of Genesis, Joseph was born into a family of twelve boys, all the sons of Jacob. Joseph becomes Jacob’s favourite son and as such he gives him a gift, a multicoloured coat to wear. Joseph has a special power to interpret dreams. When it appears Joseph will rule over his brothers one day, the eleven brothers become jealous and come up with a plan to get rid of him. After the brothers throw Joseph down a well, a group of Ishmaelites pass by, traveling to Egypt. Their plan changes and the brothers sell Joseph as a slave instead. What follows is an epic story of jealousy, growing up, morality, love, and forgiveness.
he girl who played the narrator composed herself well onstage and had a sweet singing voice. Joseph's brothers were played by a mixture of boys and girls and they demonstrated great ensemble work. They kept the energy up throughout, listened and responded to each other effectively, and there was a charming chemistry between them all. The boy who acted out the part of the Pharaoh of Egypt captured his sense of coolness brilliantly. As for the boy in the role of Joseph, he did a superb job. He was confident, comfortable onstage, and sung well. As his voice is currently transitioning, he smartly thought about where best his voice needed to go. Sometimes it was appropriate to sing higher, other times lower, and his belting ability was commendable too.

Linzi McCoy and Darcey McCoy directed and choreographed the show. The blocking and movement choices made full use of the big stage and allowed for the transitions to run smoothly. It's clear the joyfully spirited choreography had been influenced by previous productions of Joseph and it wasn't too complicated or too easy for the children to pick up, it was just right. I particularly loved the reference to Les Miserables in Those Canaan Days.
Another successful production element was the set. The cartoon style projected backdrop provided context for the story. In a positive sense, the set looked like a DIY school play set; it was like they had raided the backstage area to find the appropriate set pieces. We saw: palm trees, a posh chair and table, a well, and some pyramids.

In their own words, the North Stars Theatre Company wish to create a rehearsal and performance environment where children of all theatrical abilities can unashamedly be themselves. Their ethos promotes diversity and inclusivity. They clearly want to develop young people in a personal way and as performers. This is what theatre is about. It's moving to witness. Watching this show brought back memories from when I was Joseph in a youth theatre production. Lots of hard work and effort had gone into this production, not just from the children but from the artistic team as well. With more time, projects, and performances, all of the young performers have the potential to create a bright future for themselves. Well done to all.

Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 24/6/18

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