Reviewed by Kathryn Hart
New Theatre, Oxford this week welcomes the iconic musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to its stage.
New Theatre is situated in the heart of Oxford’s City and has been on the site for almost 200 years. It has to be one of the most welcoming theatres I’ve visited, and I would thoroughly recommend arriving early and enjoying a relaxing pre-theatre drink in either the piano bar or the newly refurbished Wonder Bar. It is also worth a mention that despite it being a very warm summer evening, the theatre was comfortably cool, very much appreciated.
There will be very few people who have not seen or heard the incredible story from Genesis of Joseph, brought to us in the musical form, penned by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber as it is a popular choice for so many school productions and theatre groups. This UK touring production by Bill Kenwright (Producer/Director) however is a technicolor spectacle to behold.
The story follows Joseph, one of twelve sons to Jacob, and most definitely the favourite. This favouritism brewed a jealousy in his siblings, especially when Jacob presents Joseph with a beautiful coloured coat. The final straw however, was when Joseph a prolific dreamer, shared with his brothers one of his dreams portraying his brothers bowing down to him. This enraged them and they plotted to kill him. They bound him and took him away but before killing him they met some travelling merchants. Seeing a way to make some money, they sold Joseph as a slave. We see Joseph’s struggles, and watch, as through his gift of interpreting dreams, he finds his way to the presence of Pharaoh himself who has been troubled by a dream. Joseph earns the respect of Pharaoh and is appointed second in charge. In a twist of fate, his brothers poor, and hungry, travel to Egypt to seek food and end up fulfilling Joseph’s dream when they are unknowingly bowing down before him to plead for food. After testing his brothers, Joseph sees their hearts have been changed, and he reveals his identity and they return bringing Jacob with them to reunite the family.
Joseph was played by the very talented Jaymi Hensley (a member of the British boy band Union J). This role has previously been played by some very high-profile personalities, so I should imagine this can be quite a daunting prospect. Jaymi absolutely nailed it last evening – his likeable personality shone through, and his vocals were incredible. He brought to the role an individuality, and the moment at the end where he was reunited with his ageing father was beautifully moving.
The story is told through the voice of a narrator and it is a role that requires you to move in and out of scenes with a presence that is almost unseen at times. Trina Hill executed this with such skill and precision and demonstrated to us her fantastic vocal ability.
Probably my favourite of the evening had to be Andrew Geater in his role of Pharaoh – portraying ‘The King’ of Rock and Roll. I’m sure there was not a single person in the theatre who didn’t want to get up and rock along with him.
Of course, I cannot omit to mention the Joseph choir who were provided by Stagecoach Performing Arts. Their presence really enhanced the performance – who can fail to be moved by the voices of children singing? And they sat so perfectly still all through.
To bring a show together like this is the result of a lot of hard work by those on stage, but also those who work tirelessly off stage – the musicians, production team, choreography, lighting, sound, etc. Thank you for bringing New Theatre Oxford to life – the energy and enthusiasm emitting from the stage last evening was amazing – and the Joseph Megamix had us all up on our feet dancing and singing along. I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the New Theatre this week – it has to be the very best tonic and will bring a little technicolour to your week.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at the New Theatre in Oxford from 16-20 July 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/oxford or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020