Joseph comes to Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 13 April and provides us with one of the best shows to ever hit the stage. There are so many reasons to go and see this show. Its family friendly, it has humour, with exceptional songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber that have you singing along and of course, a fantastic cast. With all that you know you are guaranteed a good night out.
Way way back, many centuries ago. Not long after the bible began… okay I will tell you quickly the outline of the story, although I’d rather sing it. Joseph is the well-known biblical story a boy who could interpret dreams. Joseph is the youngest of 12 children of Jacob and as he was Jacob’s favourite son which his brothers didn’t like. After Jacob gives Joseph a multi-coloured coat, his brothers decide to get rid of Joseph – and sell him as a slave. Joseph ends up in Egypt and works hard from nothing to become the successful number two of the Pharaoh. It is a real rags to riches story.
Joseph is played by Jaymi Hensley who younger audience members will know as a member of Union J. This is Jaymi’s first theatrical outing and the part of Joseph has big shoes to fill with Philip Schofield, Joe McElderry and Jason Donovan who have all previously undertaken the role. However, Jaymi is absolutely outstanding in his portrayal of Joseph and is easily on a par with his peers. Jaymi holds the audience in the palm of his hands and is funny and sincere in the role. I very much enjoyed him parodying Elvis when he asks Elvis to sing again. Jaymi also has an amazing voice and his range effortlessly gives each song meaning. But Jaymi is not just a great singer; he can also act extremely well. He demonstrates pain, love and humour in the role. Close Every Door was an emotional rollercoaster; you could hear a pin drop in the theatre as every audience member was spellbound by his performance.
The story is told by a Narrator and in this show that part is played by Trina Hill. Her expression in her voice gives weight to the story she is telling. She has a lovely smile and her voice is pure and gives the songs a gravitas. It really feels she is telling us a story worth hearing. Of course Jacob has another eleven sons which all gave brilliant performances. I particularly enjoyed Benjamin played by Alex Hetherington, who really gave innocence to his role. All the cast were fantastic but I do have to give a special mention to Andrew Geater who played the Pharaoh. He really could have been Elvis! He stayed in character and asked a girl to be his Teddy Bear. He sang another song Stone the Crows/King Of My Heart which also mentions other Elvis songs in a tongue in cheek way. A perfect number for the character and Andrew gave an absolutely fabulous performance.
What also makes this a fantastic show is the music. There are songs you will know such as Any Dream will do, Close Every door to me and Go Go Go Joseph, but there are also many songs performed in a different style. One more angel in Heaven is done in a country style and there were cowboy hats, a hoe-down and even a few cow-girls. It is also quite funny as they are trying to be sad but secretly are pleased that Joseph is gone. Those Canaan days is a Parisian style they are all in berets. There is a bike with onions on it and even an image of the Eiffel Tower in the background. It’s a million miles from Canaan but that’s what makes it funny. J’adore the French lyrics which make me feel I could almost speak French. Almost. Go Go Go Joseph is in full choir and pretty spectacular. Benjamin has his own Calypso which is always a vibrant number. And of course I have already mentioned Elvis as the Pharaoh and that is given an American twist with cheerleaders and American football outfits. The finale of this production felt modern and current with us all on our feet singing and dancing along. Some of the brothers come into the aisles to join us. In my opinion this show never dates and is always a crowd pleaser. And did I mention it has inflatable sheep?...Yes, inflatable furry sheep is the cherry on the top.
If you leave a show wanting to see it again and singing all the songs, you know it’s worth seeing. I’m gonna end on a song. Feel free to sing along. Sh na na Joseph you’re doing fine, go and see Joseph; you’ll have a good time.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 13 April.