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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Date

6th July 2019

Society

Retford & District Amateur Operatic Society

Venue

Majestic Theatre, Retford

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Liz Williams

Musical Director

Paul O'Leary

Choreographer

Betty Teanby

Report

Author: Andrew Key

This production by The MOB - the junior section of the Society.

‘All these things you saw in your pyjamas are a long range forecast for your farmers’

My favourite line from one of my favourite musicals. I’m old enough to have gone to see Joseph in London at the turn of the 1990s with Jason Donavan and later Philip Schofield in the lead role. The humour – especially in the wonderful lyrics – the pace and feel good factor from those shows is something I’ll always remember. And so, I wondered, would The MOB be able to recreate that atmosphere in Retford all these years later?

Thank you so much to the Society for inviting me to their Show. I was met by President Betty Teanby. What a welcome and what an incredible lady (maybe the evening should have been called  ‘Joseph and the Amazing Betty!’). You maybe know how old Betty is – I didn’t – when she told me I was flabbergasted – where does she get the energy from to not only be President – but be the choreographer for the show - assisted so ably by Rebecca White. The dancing throughout was so good – slick, fast, accurate – with everyone – boys and girls, impeccably drilled.

The bar was set high for this production right from the very first note from the great ten piece orchestra under the Musical Direction of Paul O’Leary, with Assistant MD, Daniel Pattenden. The children from the Ranskill Primary and Carr Hill Primary Schools stood so patiently during the overture for their musical entrance and added so much through the entire show – well done to you all. How appropriate for children still to be performing this show after it began all those years ago in 1968 as a short musical piece for a London School.

Our four narrators Grace, Annie, Francesca and Georgia were the linchpins to the whole show – powerful strong singing voices, a definite stage presence and bright and breezy costumes meant we were to be in safe hands as Joseph’s story unfolded in front of our eyes through this almost entirely sung production.

It was Matt Heald’s turn to play Joseph on Saturday night, alternating with Edward Grayson-Footitt. Matthew made a strong entrance – great singing with the children of ‘Any Dream Will Do.’ And he maintained this energy and strength of voice to the end. Not only can he sing, but dance too – all the very best Matt in Chester with your dance training. Similarly, good luck to all the other leavers from The MOB this year as they make their way in the world – what a great show to go out on!

I loved Jacob – Brad Storey’s - appearance in his striped deck chair  - all of his sons bounding on stage with wonderful energy and enthusiasm – well done to you all for keeping this up to the very end. Lovely reactions and great beards too! The eleven brothers’ choreography in all the routines was so difficult, but done so well – everyone knew exactly what to do when.

The lighting was especially effective when it came to mirroring the colours of the coat Jacob presented his favourite son – a little bird told me afterwards that Gary Kendrick had a week off work to get the lighting just right – and it most certainly was – congratulations – faultless.

When Joseph was sold by the plotting brothers into slavery this was the cue for the arrival of a huge camel on stage – well done to everyone involved in this – I loved its face!

The brothers’ convincing accents – and fake tears on telling Jacob of Joseph’s supposed death were done very well – talk about overacting – so funny – matched with a catchy rendition of the ‘Country and Western’ classic ‘One More Angel in Heaven’ and the subsequently beautifully danced hoedown – that had all the audience clapping along – the cast singing and dancing at the same time (not easy) without missing a beat (there must have been time for a breath there somewhere!)

Then we were off to Egypt and on came Potiphar – Fraser Duffy – in a headdress bigger than he was – inspired casting – and an immediate hit with the audience. Perfect timing when it came to counting his money or speaking with the music – and what a roar!

Matt’s ‘Close Every Door’ as he languished in prison was a showstopping performance with a huge reaction from the audience.

Go, Go, Go Joseph was a rousing end to Act One – great routines – I was watching everyone on stage – including those on the very back row of the platform and the lines on stage – and couldn’t see a single person out of time. The 70s costumes were great – as indeed were all the costumes throughout – well done to Carolyn White and everyone involved.

You left the audience wanting more at the interval.

In Act Two – again so many wonderful costumes, as we returned to the story in Egypt with beautiful harmonies from the many singers.

And so we met The Pharaoh. On Saturday night it was Joshua Parker’s turn. Well done Josh for those dance moves and Elvis-swinging hips – plus the incredibly well synchronised dancing with Joseph. Loved the do-wapping backing too.

The brothers’ abilities to put on an array of accents was tested further in the lovely French ‘Canaan Days’ scene and the soon to follow Jamaican calypso. A good catch by Benjamin (Beth White) of an escaped Maraca and very nimble limbo dancing thrown in for good measure by the cast.

Great drama was generated by Joseph’s trick on his unsuspecting brothers as his identity was finally revealed to them.

And what a fabulous megamix finale involving all the cast – they got all the audience going and earned a much deserved, instant and prolonged standing ovation.

My sincere congratulations to Director Liz Williams for producing such a well polished show. I know the cast have been hard at rehearsals since November and all that dedicated work really paid off.

Having been involved with junior productions myself in the past I know that something as big as this relies on the help and support of so many people. The chaparones and families of all the children must have given so much time and energy to the show too, along with Stage Manager Elaine Shaw and her hard working team. Props, sound and set also all came together to enhance an already wonderful show.

So well done to everyone at The MOB. I asked at the start of this review if they would be able to emulate the feel good factor, humour and pace of those West End Shows I saw all those years ago – and the answer most undoubtedly is YES!!! I loved it all – and so wish I could have come back and seen it all again.

Andrew Key