Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat - Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre - Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
Joseph… is the first production from the new Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre, and what a lively, energetic opening production it was. On entering the theatre you notice not only the dominating set but the long runway jutting out into the auditorium, and you know this is going to be a different sort of production. Director Paul Lumsden has done a great job of getting the best out of the potentially awkward Town Hall space to tell this classic story, and his young cast respond brilliantly. The opening conceit of having a class of school children being told the story by the Narrators as their teachers works well, and from the moment the band of 11 brothers hit the stage the energy really takes off and never lets up.
The performances make a feature of the many different quirky musical styles within Lloyd Webber’s score, from the brothers taunting Joseph sounding almost like a football crowd to Tom Lafferty’s pitch-perfect Elvis look-a-like Pharoah. Leading us through the story are the Narrators Ellicia Smith and Juliet Fisher who both possess very clear, striking voices with excellent diction, and also seemed to enjoy the vast array of costumes they were given. The supporting performances from Bae Rooney, Joe Sutton, Jessica Dovey, Jessica Neil and Eloise Wilson were all strongly characterized.
At the heart of the production is Ben Hayfield’s Joseph, holding the stage with an easy charm and a very well controlled young voice. In fact it was a feature of this production, and a credit to MD Tony Orbell, that all the singing was very well controlled, with some nice moments of very confident harmony.
Jane Slassor’s choreography brought the best out of her young dancers, the Hoe Down being a particular highlight.
It’s just a shame that the lighting left performers in the dark on several occasions in the show, and the sound balance made it difficult to understand long sections of the songs; my 10 year old junior reviewer, who had never seen Joseph before, said she could only clearly hear about half of the lyrics, and therefore struggled to keep up with the story.
However this could not stop you noticing the energy and commitment from all the cast on stage.
Starting a new Youth Theatre must be a daunting prospect but an exciting challenge. Well done to the members of Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company for creating this youth company and giving so many young people the chance to experience live theatre, both on stage and in off stage technical roles. I look forward to following this fledgling company as they grow over the next few years.
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