“this show, much like Joseph’s coat, never loses it’s magic”

‘Joseph’ is a sung-through musical comedy that had its audience in stitches on Thursday night at Leech Hall. The entire cast were incredibly strong, but the clear standouts were James Barber as Joseph and Alice Liddle as the narrator, who sang for almost the complete production and led the audience through the story. Barber did a wonderful job of bringing humour to this piece at all the right places, as well as making the ending especially heartwarming. I particularly liked “Who’s the Thief?” and “Benjamin Calypso”, as the choreography and singing had the whole audience laughing and awaiting the reveal of Joseph’s identity as he chased Benjamin, portrayed by Anna Woolaghan, around the stage.  

The slapstick and physical humour displayed by Henry Barker, Ben Rook, and Thomas Rainford was incredibly enjoyable, particularly as they switched between roles throughout the musical, which brought the story forward and the audience loved it. Rainford becoming Elvis for the latter half of Act 2 was one of my favourite moments from the performance, partly because as someone who hadn’t seen the show since I was a small child it was completely unexpected, this surprise just made the moment all the better.  

Every time the ten brothers were on stage it seemed to brighten, the large grouping of them had the effect of bringing the energy levels through the roof. I loved “Jacob and Sons”, and “One More Angel in Heaven”, they brought such range to the performance, and brought it alight. 

The technical direction in this show was incredibly effective, I really liked the use of changing LED lights that were stationed around the top of the room directed at the stage, particularly during “Joseph’s Coat”, where they changed colour with every “And scarlet, and black, and ochre, and peach”, all the way through to “Red, and yellow, and green, and brown, and blue”. This only added to the energy and excitement of the song, which then wonderfully juxtaposed the plotting of the brothers throughout “Joseph’s Dreams” and “Poor, Poor Joseph”.  

I really liked the repeated use of the aisle in the middle of the audience, especially as the front centre stage was further forward than the rest of the stage. This gave the effect of bringing the audience much closer into the action of the story, particularly when actors joined the stage by walking up the aisle, as there was a couple more seconds of suspense before we could clearly see what was going on.  

It would be impossible to talk about this musical without mentioning the fact that this was the very first collaboration between the Bailey Theatre Company and the Johns Music Society. The energy was incredible and I loved the way that the live band were visible to the audience at all times, as it really allowed us to appreciate the feat that they have brought the show together to such a high skill level. Anyone would be mistaken to not pay attention to this band, and I eagerly await to see what they perform next, and hope to see them all in some more DST productions in their time at Durham.  

Directed by Chessy Weiner and Produced by Peter Houston, this performance of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ was one of the most enjoyable shows that I have watched whilst a student at Durham, and I cannot wait to see every single member of this cast and crew in more DST productions, as this show, much like Joseph’s coat, never loses it’s magic. 

By Emily Smith

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ is playing at Leech Hall until Saturday 30th April

Photo credits: BTC & John’s Music Society