Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Tim Rice
Wednesday 6 - Saturday 9 June 2018
The biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colours comes alive in this musical retelling by Andrew Llyod Webber and Tim Rice. Joseph, the favourite son of Jacob who has 11 other sons, is blessed with vivid dreams that foretell the future. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph endures a series of adventures that challenge him to his core. Soon he finds himself belonging to Potiphar, whose wife makes advances toward Joseph and ultimately lands him behind bars. However, news of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams sparks the interest of the hilariously Elvis-like Pharaoh. Soon, Joseph is out of jail and well on his way to second-in-command. Eventually Joseph’s brothers find themselves unknowingly grovelling at the feet of the brother they betrayed. As they fail to even recognise him, Joseph tests their integrity. He ultimately reveals himself and the brothers are reconciled. A truly timeless Old Testament tale, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is set to a multitude of musical genres, spanning from country-western and calypso to bubble-gum pop and rock and roll.
NODA SHOW REPORT
Carriageworks Theatre, Thursday 7 June 2018
"talented young performers who literally took my breath away with their amazing stagecraft"
How full of envy I felt on being at this brilliant production of ‘Joseph’! I was just born too soon to be able to take part!! But I also felt a great deal of pride that, in my District, I have such talented young performers who literally took my breath away with their amazing stagecraft – I am so pleased that local theatre is safe in their hands – and for some, a glittering professional career must beckon.
This inaugural Diva Youth production was created in the skilled and expert hands of Andrew Ashley as Director/Co-producer, with Andy Fretwell as Co-producer. What a team! Andrew directed this iconic piece of musical theatre very well – not a move or action was missed. A simple set had been used, comprising of two staircases with a central playing area and sliding doors, which came to life with expert and professional lighting. Although there were nearly 50 cast members (with additional voices off stage), it did not seem in the least overcrowded – but I would have loved to be at rehearsals to watch how this was achieved! The vocals and unseen band were directed by Jonathan Wilby as Musical Director, again, brilliantly. The young cast’s mature voices were second to none and were coached well by Jonathan – their diction and musicality was excellent throughout.
Kimberley Baker was responsible for the exciting choreography throughout - I particularly enjoyed the Female ensemble dance moves. The hard-working Dance Captain was Laura Hancock.
Every member of the cast worked with my favourite two ‘Es’ – energy and enthusiasm! I appreciate this was a team effort, but I must mention two performers – Joseph Button as ‘Joseph’ and Aimee Townend as ‘Narrator’, both giving first-class and sensitive performances in their leading roles.
I always give credit to the backstage team, headed by Gary Kidd (Stage Manager) John McBride (Head of Stage) and Crew. Jamie Hudson and Andrew Ashley (Lighting Design) Tom Brancker (Sound), Susie Rowley (Props), imaginative costumes by Emma Ibbetson, Julie Kidd (Wardrobe) and Lesley Cannon, Front of House. Without this support, the onstage performers would be lost!
It is worth noting that ‘Joseph’ was composed by a 17 year old Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by the 20 year old Tim Rice 50 years ago for an end-of term entertainment at Colet Court School. It has been added to, revived and has toured professionally for 35 years – and it’s still going strong!!
I watched a happy audience leave the theatre, especially two little girls skipping along, singing ‘Go,Go,Go Joseph’ - not seeing the adult behind, doing the same thing! Yes, me!
My sincere congratulations to you all!
NODA NE Regional Representative – District 9
Local Theatre Company Diva Provide a Technicolour Spectacular at Leeds Carriageworks Theatre
Reviewed Saturday 9 June 2018
Yorkshire Evening Post / Castleford & Pontefract Express / Wakefield Express
"From curtain up to the spectacular finale, this was a show replete with talent, movement and entertainment, a gourmet feast fully appreciated by an enthralled audience".
The benefits of theatrical participation for young people cannot seriously be doubted, with positives such as discipline, teamwork and boosted self-esteem well to the fore. It’s become a bit of a hobby horse of mine, a subject that I see no harm in returning to from time to time. It’s not a secret that people learn more effectively when they’re fully engaged instead of, as is all too often the case, bored to tears. Well, there’s nothing boring about getting involved in a stage production, and that’s why it’s so good for youngsters. Q.E.D.
So, it’s always a great pleasure to see one of our many respected local community theatre companies setting up a part of their operation aimed specifically at younger performers. One such organisation, Diva Productions, is rapidly making a name for itself as a theatrical powerhouse with its foundations rooted firmly in the high end, quality production section of local musical theatre endeavour. When Diva puts on its inaugural youth performance, you know it’ll be worth seeing.
And so it proved, with Diva Youth Productions’ offering of “Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat” making a big hit at the Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds last week. From curtain up to the spectacular finale, this was a show replete with talent, movement and entertainment, a gourmet feast fully appreciated by an enthralled audience.
Some spectacular lighting and pyrotechnic effects enhanced the visual appeal of what was a stunning production, but of course it was the youthful enthusiasm, energy and sheer talent of the cast that sent the audience away buzzing. Every principal, every ensemble member, and each singer in the junior choir providing backing vocals contributed in full measure - the way some of the main characters harmonised while the chorus carried the melody was particularly impressive.
There were standout performances from Joseph Button (Joseph), Aimee Townend (Narrator), Harry Hughes (Pharaoh and Levi) and dancer Evie McDaid (a veryvampy Mrs Potiphar), all of whom caught the eye even in such a very able cast. There was strength in depth too, always the sign of a top class production, as Brandon Lewis (Jacob) and Elliyah Dione (Judah) showed that the company has some fine talent at its disposal. The fact of the matter is that these young performers will get better yet in what is a very supportive environment under the guidance of co-producers Andy Fretwell and Andrew Ashley. These two founders of Diva have a string of smash hits behind them already, but they must be particularly proud of the spectacle their young cast provided to grace the Carriageworks stage, providing a show that would do credit to many an adult company.
Andrew Ashley, as director, never missed a trick, with some deeply moving scenes interspersed with plenty of laughs. Another star of the show was the simple yet effective set with an appropriate pyramid feature, and twin staircases providing two well-used levels for the non-stop action. The musical accompaniment was provided by an unseen but highly effective band under the sure guidance of Musical Director Jonathan Wilby, and Kimberley Baker’s skilful choreography brought the very best out of some extremely talented dancers, with dance captain Laura Hancock providing onstage leadership.
This was the first production for the newly established Diva Youth section and, judging by its rapturous reception, with a standing ovation at the final curtain after a reprise of two of the main numbers, audiences will be looking forward with great anticipation to a lot more of the same or similar.
By Rob Atkinson
SHOWTIME ON SUNDAY
YO1 Radio, York
"another excellent production"
Back in 1968 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote their second musical together (their first being ‘The Likes of Us’) – I say musical but it was actually a 20 minute “pop cantata” and it was written for Colet Court School in London – it was a success with pupils and parents that it was published and released as a record in 1969 – then it was placed on a back burner as another show ‘ Jesus Christ Superstar’ took over the writing duo’s time. However, back in 1973 ‘Joseph’ got a re-write and a new lease of life and so began its first West End outing. Joseph has continued to impress audiences worldwide ever since and has toured the UK during 2010, 2014 and 2016 to the present date; with many stars donning the famous coat of many colours.
The musical was a great way for Lloyd Webber to showcase his skill at writing various musical styles – French ballads (Those Canaan Days), Elvis Rock n Roll (Song of the King), Western (One More Angel In Heaven), 1920’s Charleston (Potiphar), Calypso (Benjamin Calypso), Jazz (Joseph’s Dreams) and 1950’s Rock (Go,Go, Go Joseph). If you don’t know the show then ‘Joseph’ is told entirely through song with the help of a main character Narrator. The musical follows preferred son of Jacob; Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, he ingratiates himself with Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the amorous advances of Potiphar’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers his ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of the mighty but troubled, Elvis-inspired, Pharaoh. Joseph’s solution to Egypt’s famine elevates him to Pharaoh’s right-hand man and reunites him with his family.
2018 see’s this little kid in a coloured coat turn 50 – and Diva Productions decided to make their debut Youth Production a birthday celebration for ‘Joseph’.
What we are presented with this week, on the whole is another excellent production from the duo Andrew Ashley (Producer/Director) and Andy Fretwell (Producer). These two guys are very accommodating and extremely good hosts and their passion for musical theatre and GOOD productions really does show. Their choices so far for Diva have been spot on and their up and coming shows are a treat ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ are both crackers!
So the dreaming begins with a lovely space life set from Scenic Projects, that would not look out of place on the set of Dr Who or Red Dwarf – it domineered the stage at the Carriageworks and formed the box set for the whole production. It was lit exceptionally well by Jamie Hudson and Andrew Ashley – in fact it was the most colourful part of the show (apart from the finale). Aimee Townend did her best with the part and she managed to belt out ‘Pharoah’s Story’ very well. Harry Hughes was great as ‘Levi’ and he certainly threw himself into his portrayal of ‘Pharoah’ and he looked to enjoy it too. Brandon Johnson was a good character actor as ‘Jacob’ and Evie McDaid was a great ‘Mrs Potiphar’ with legs that extended forever.
There were some great performances from the brothers – they worked well together and they sang their way through with gusto and some lovely harmonies. I liked Benjamin Reynard as ‘Reuben’, Logan Murray was an energetic ‘Napthali’, Calum Broadbent shone out as ‘Zeublan’ and the ‘Baker’ and Samuel Ashton gave the cuteness as the youngest brother ‘Benjamin’.
The dancing ensemble were excellent and Kimberley Baker had really spent time on creating some lovely choreography and all the girls danced well. It was also nice to see every single face smiling – the energy and warmth from the female ensemble came over the footlights and into the auditorium – it was lovely to see.
The choir were in good form and voice also – lead by Lucy Watson; they were a credit to Musical Director Jonathan Wilby.
There are some shows that work well as they are and shouldn’t be touched or altered – for me Joseph is one of them. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the performances and production as a whole, certain production values didn’t work for me. The modern costumes sat uncomfortable with me – this family are poor, they have no food, they have no worldly goods – but they wore trendy jeans, Nike trainers and Calvin Klein underwear – I would have loved for this show to have kept true to its roots as it would have stood out as the perfect production if it did; like I say, that’s my view and it’s one negative thing out of the long list of positives.
Joseph Button was exceptional as Joseph. He was dominant, he acted well and sang superbly. He had the look and mannerisms of Joseph and he had the confidence any Director could wish for from their leading man. He carried the production and looked exquisite in his finale gold coat and large coloured extending belt. It was a feast for the eyes and brought a smile to any face.
On the whole Diva Youth Productions gave a fabulous debut performance and the whole company worked well together and delivered a feel good show – they should all be proud of their achievements and I look forward to seeing what they do with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in June 2019.
Thank You Diva Youth for a lovely evening!
by Steven Clarke
Joseph (Joseph Button) and the Narrator (Aimee Townend), along with Director Andrew Ashley were delighted to chat to Andrew Edwards at BBC Radio Leeds. Listen to the interview below.
The Creative Team
Directed by Andrew Ashley
Choreography by Kimberley Baker
Musical Direction by Jonathan Wilby
Choreography by Kimberley Baker
Musical Direction by Jonathan Wilby
Produced by: Andrew Ashley & Andy Fretwell
This is an adult amateur performance by arrangement with The Musical Company Ltd.
We are pleased to be working with the following companies on this production: