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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Musical

Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
28th March 2009 The Mayflower Theatre Southampton
A Jen Ames Review

The best part of the tour of Joseph and his multicoloured overcoat (as my Grandad announced it was called in the bar beforehand,) was the end.
Not because the rest of the show was poor, but because of the way the energy, pace, and overall flair picked up in the finale song and dance. I got the feeling some of the actors were so glad yet another show was over they couldn’t help getting excited in the final ten minutes, and as a result, the end of the show had more flair, pizzazz and dare I say it, colour than the two hours preceding it.

I must say, I was a little bit disappointed with the first half of the show, it didn’t leap off the stage like I was expecting it to, and I didn’t shed any tears during "Close every door" which is quite unusual for me. I thought that Craig Chalmers of BBC’s "Any Dream Will Do" fame lacked the charisma and conviction of his predecessors, Donavon and Schofield and I didn’t emotionally connect with him or his character Joseph. His acting at times felt a little forced, and there seemed to be a general lack of energy onstage a lot of the time. Alright he looked pretty decent in baby oil when he arrives in Egypt, but that was pretty much the only attention grabbing aspect of his performance.

This lack of energy became really apparent when the characters Benjamin, and the smallest blonde Handmaid, exploded onto the stage. Both Sam Cassidy and Stephanie Harrow showed their cast-mates up with their slick, polished dance routines, and infectious energy, that ended up looking a little out of place amongst the less convincing efforts of the others onstage. One of the three Handmaids looked like she was out of practice, perhaps due to a cast switch-around, as one of the original handmaids was playing the part of the narrator tonight. She was behind the other two with her timing, and went the wrong direction a couple of times. However, I think the main issue I had with individual cast members, was Chris Dilley’s inability to stand still during the frozen scenes. Whilst everyone else was standing stock still (including the children from Stagecoach who barely twitched) he wobbled about and shifted his weight, and I even caught him adjusting his loincloth type thing at one stage, please Chris, this is a family show! There is nothing more annoying during an emotional musical number than someone twitching away in the background, but then and again, Chalmers wasn’t really capturing my attention so my eyes were bound to wander and pick up any misdemeanours going on elsewhere.

The second half did pick up a fair amount, and I feel that if the cast had put as much oomph into the rest of the show as they did in the finale, and as Cassidy and Harrow did all the way through, the result would have been an exciting technicolour spectacular. However, a big thumbs down from a long time fan of Joseph and his coat, I wanted to poke some of the actors with a stick to see if they’d react…

© jennifer helen ames April 2009

Jen is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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