Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Wed 5th – Sat 8th March 2014

reviews

Jenni Reid

at 11:08 on 6th Mar 2014

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Save for putting on a polished, West End standard show, this production of Joseph was only really going to work by embracing the camp absurdity of it all and running with it; luckily, this is exactly what the Magdalene Musical Production Society did. Oli MacFarlane as Joseph and Tasila Banda as the narrator played it straight and sincere, showcasing their very pleasant voices and keeping the show grounded. However the supporting cast, from the male Mrs Potipher to the wonderfully extravagant Pharaoh, ramped up the fun and let us sit back and relax by not taking themselves too seriously. This was particularly evident in the usually unbearable number ‘Those Canaan Days’, out of which the cast squeezed every drop of comic potential. The chorus could be a little hit and miss with their choreography, but the slightly haphazard nature of some of the big numbers was no real downfall; indeed it often made the whole thing more endearing. Nick Caldwell was brilliant as Jacob, with mournful puppy dog eyes and spot-on comic timing. Meanwhile the uses of props throughout – a mobile selfie of Jacob and his sons, a hilariously unimpressive chariot of gold for Joseph – added to the playful atmosphere.

I had wondered how MMPS would make use of the somewhat stark and corporate-feeling Cripps Auditorium, about as far away from the deserts of the Middle East as one can get. There was all but nothing in the way of a set, but this was probably for the best as nothing would be able to fully transform the space and it allowed the audience’s focus to remain on the action. What was nice about the Auditorium was that the orchestra could be seen at the back rather than tucked away out of sight as they often are. This also allowed them to have some proper appreciation from the audience as they rounded off the night to raucous applause long after the cast had left the stage. However the poor balance of sound between the orchestra, the lead vocalists and the chorus was unfortunate and can hopefully be improved during the rest of the show’s run. I found myself thinking that it was a good thing I knew the songs already, as some – the otherwise very funny Pharaoh’s story in particular - were all but unintelligible lyric-wise. At the same time the mics often gave the singer’s voices an unpleasant scratchy quality, while not enhancing the volume all that much.

But who am I to rain on their parade? The cast was clearly having a great time, and the audience was too. If you want tight choreography, fancy sets and faultless vocals then this is not the musical for you. But for injecting a bit of technicolour into your evening (sorry, I did try not to go there) you won’t go far wrong with this show.

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