Hands up, who’s a big musicals fan? Yers, I have two hands waving in the air; Katy is sitting on hers. I know, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. I do know that. Don’t understand it, mind, but I do know.
Way way back (many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began….) I was taken to see a touring production of Joseph at our local theatre. My very first ever ‘Musical’ experience. I was hooked. My parents had the LP, and I could think of nothing better than to spend an afternoon closeted with the record player, singing along and replaying the show in my head. Yes, I am that sad person who knows every word to every part. I performed in it twice at school. It started a life-long love of musical theatre, and will always be a special show for me.
But. I’m married to a non-musical-er (*gasp*), and my children have never seen a big musical show (panto has been it so far). So when we had the chance to review the currently touring Joseph production at the BIC, I of course jumped at the opportunity. I talked the male members of the family into accompanying me (I would of course have gone alone if necessary), and leaving the 3yr old with an able grown up we headed off to Bournemouth last night for opening night.
Excited? Oh my yes. But a little cautious – I had a feeling Middle Boy would love it, loving as he does all things song and dance. Wasn’t sure if it was No.1 sons cup of tea (he’s more Nickelback than Adrew Lloyd Webber), and the youngest 7yr old was really very tired and actually only fit for bed. And of course the husband was willing but wouldn’t have minded missing it either.
Eek! What if no one enjoyed it? What if this turned them off the theatre?
More importantly, what if I didn’t get to enjoy it as they fidgeted and huffed? *wibble*
So – the lights went down, and the music began to soar. First there was a session from the band as they played a medley of all the biggest tunes from the show. I quite enjoyed it, but it was rather a long introduction, and it lost the eldest two boys attention. Not knowing the tunes they were quickly bored, rummaging for the maltesers and I had a sinking feeling that the night was doomed. Eventually the narrator entered the stage for the Prologue (a new addition to my 70’s-version memories, where the narrator was a man, too), and they politely settled down to pay attention.
However, once the brothers made their appearance I noticed the boys sit a little straighter and start to watch more closely, so I relaxed and allowed myself to be swept along by the familiar story. Keith Jack fulfilled his promise from the TV show, and was satisfyingly fabulous – and a surprisingly dab hand at the comic timing too.
During the interval I had a chance to find out what the boys thought so far… No.1 was smiling and saying in a surprised voice that he was ‘actually quite enjoying it, and there had been some funny bits’. Middle Son, my fellow music lover simply said ‘well, it’s really nice of you to bring us and everything… but aren’t they ever going to SAY something instead of singing All The Time? It’s not that I’m not liking it (much!), but I think Snow White was better.”
(Great, Joseph is outranked by Chris from Cbeebies in panto…)
I turned to Third son, the so-tired 7yr old, who had been having a whispered commentary from Daddy to keep him up to speed with the plot. His eyes were shining, he was gazing around the theatre humming to himself, and simply absorbing the experience. Did I mention he’s quite my favourite boy? ;)
And so the second act began and after a quick catch-up from the childrens choir (again causing restless stirrings from my older boys) we were back in jail with Joseph. This is really where the plot speeds up, and the minute we hear Pharoah’s voice my two non-believers were craning their necks trying to spot where it had come from. They literally roared when Pharoah ‘Presley’ entered and quite suddenly they were leaning forward straining to see everything all at once, clapping and laughing and really rather looking like they were enjoying themselves. When Joseph accused the brothers of stealing the cup they were on the edge of their seats, and sat in frozen tension as the accusation of Benjamin unfolded.
By the time the encores began they were on the feet, roaring and stamping and cheering their approval. They just loved the replaying of the best songs now with the ease of familiarity and able to sing along, and when the brothers descended into the audience and they had Judah (their favourite brother) dance alongside them, I’m afraid they were hooked.
Keith Jack was a great Joseph, not only is his voice very special but he acted the part beautifully (*whispers* No.1 son admitted to getting quite emotional a couple of times). The narrator, played perfectly by Trina Hill, was engaging (even with a slightly dodgy waistcoat) and the interactions between the brothers rather stole my three boys hearts. The comedy elements which make Joseph such a great family show were excellent, and the costumes were wonderful. The set was perfect: the simple, stylish effect you would expect with the necessary ‘childrens choir’ on stage at all times.
The only issue we did have was that sometimes the sound just wasn’t clear – usually when Joseph or the Narrator were belting out the big numbers, their voices were simply too much for the microphones and we had distortion that made the lyrics unclear, and occasionally almost painful to listen to. We also lost the colours being chanted by the brothers at the beginning once Joseph began his counterpoint lyrics. In a relatively small theatre these very big soloist voices probably needed no microphones at all… but this was opening night, so hopefully that small sound point will soon be corrected.
I had such big expectations, and the night simply did not fail. Simply everything ‘Jospeh’ should be – stunning vocals, vibrant and colourful cast and of course the amazing music. On top of which, this latest production managed to gather up a whole new generation of followers. No.1 son couldn’t stop talking all the way back to the car, Middle son agreed that if he wasn’t going to see a panto (*eyes rolling*) this would definitely be his first choice to see instead… and Boy 3 simply skipped, spun, twirled and sang his way down the street.
I’m sorry, husband. I appear to have stolen your children over to the dark side…
Bournemouth International Centre for great shows and events