Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Edinburgh Playhouse

OK - a little back story for non-UK readers.

Last year there was a BBC television talent show Any Dream Will Do whose purpose was to select a singer to play the role of Joseph in a West End Production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This followed the great success (in terms of both viewing figures and eventual outcome) of an earlier show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria (and it won't have taken you long to work out what that show was finding the lead singer for).

OK. The eventual winner, Lee Mead, is now starring in Joseph in the West End. The third-placed entrant, Lewis Bradley, takes over on Lee's days off. Meanwhile, the second-placed entrant Keith Jack (Narrator) and fourth-placed Craig Chalmers (Joseph) are appearing in the touring version of the same (Bill Kenwright) production. They both come from Edinburgh, where the show is on right now. So - what was it like?

In short, excellent. We'd had some reservations about Craig on the basis of the TV show, especially regarding his acting, but in fact he was very good. He doesn't have to do much acting as Joseph in point of fact, and was much better than we'd expected in any case. To pad out a quite short show to a full evening there was a "Joseph Megamix" tacked on at the end, a kind of glorified reprise of all the best numbers for the audience to clap along to. By the time he was into that, Craig's voice was going and his tuning was off, but he was fine in the show itself.

Keith Jack was a revelation. We'd though him a worthy runner-up on TV (we'd been rooting for Lee for about ten weeks) and were looking forward to seeing him in a role that is slightly bigger and quite a bit more demanding than Joseph while being less glamorous. He carried it off to perfection, from his first entrance singing softly yet perfectly (audible and in tune) to two small children, all the way through the show (he's hardly ever off stage). While he wouldn't look as good in a loincloth as Craig (let alone Lee), he is clearly going to have a career and a half. We all reckoned he'd be a fabulous Fiero in Wicked, a Danny in Grease, a Candide or a Freddy Eynsford-Hill (My Fair Lady).

We also loved the production, with its inflatable sheep (and a Maigret-esque Parisian lamp-post for Those Canaan Days). The trouble-prone animatronic camel of the West End production was nowhere to be seen.

A piece of trivia: Joseph was originally written for school performance and thus scored for piano only. The first actual orchestration, for a jazz combo, was done by my wife's present boss Ken Thompson (whom you may know from the Scottish Saxophone Quartet or latterly from Mull Historical Society).

And the coat? It was red and yellow and green and brown and
Scarlet and black and ochre and peach
And ruby and olive and violet and fawn
And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve
And cream and crimson and silver and rose
And azure and lemon and russet and grey
And purple and white and pink and orange
And blue.

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