I’d not seen any other productions of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, so I was excited to hear that Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would be in Oxford this week, with Jaymi Hensley, from the band Union J, in the lead role.
Press night also coincided with the launch of the theatre’s revamped Balcony Bar, now christened the Wonder Bar and now sports a fetching, Oxford appropriate Alice in Wonderland theme. It’s been nicely done with the odd teacup and playing card detail, but still with comfy seating – it’s worth visiting especially if you’re early for a performance. Although be warned, you’ll have to climb the three sets of stairs.
We went enmass with my parents and Tom’s Mum also joining us for Joseph. Of all of us, Tom’s mum had seen Jason Donovan in the lead role back in the day and was the most familiar with the musical. Although I think everyone did the ‘aaaaaahhh’ bit as part of a school choir during ‘Any Dream Will Do’. Also the school choir during this performance was great.
I think it was fair to say that this production was more ‘reimagined’ than we’d expected. Joseph and his brothers were suitably clad as you would expect for biblical figures, like better versions of the shepherds from any school nativity. And there was a distinct Egyptian vibe, but more The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas.
A lot of the numbers had added extras too – the classic Poor Poor Joseph had the brothers’ don stetsons for a wild west beat, whilst during the brothers’ later repent, they wore Mexican-theme costumes for ‘Benjamin Calypso’. And lastly, Pharaoh (played by Andrew Geator) emerged as the King, as in Elvis, with a rhinestone enhanced jumpsuit, but with Cleopatra eye makeup.
For me, the best bit was Jaymi’s rendition of ‘Close Every Door to Me’, it was heartfelt and had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. The cast were all very good with excellent voices and super dance numbers. All in all, it was an extremely jolly performance, a bit panto-esque, but the audience was all on board, including us, once we got over the shock of Elvis appearing in biblical Egypt.
Joseph is playing at the New Theatre until Saturday 20th July 2019.