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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Birmingham Hippodrome

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Jaymi Hensley is a Dreamy Joseph
This classic musical was the first of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's creations to be performed publicly back in the late 1960s and is seeing somewhat of a resurgence this year - but has it stood the test of time?

Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, jaymi Hensley
Fun and colourful scenes in Joseph


While London's West End has a new version of Joseph starring Olivier Award winning Sheridan Smith and Jason Donovan, much of the rest of the country has this UK tour production featuring Union J's Jaymi Hensley as the boy who interprets dreams.

After an impressive stint in the panto as Peter Pan, Hensley returns to Birmingham Hippodrome until 13 July for this well-loved musical based on the biblical tale of Joseph.

He is in fine voice and commands the stage, with a canny resemblance to Zac Efron about him. The show does suffer in the second act, when he is less involved in the singing, especially as it is sometimes hard to understand all the words of Narrator Trina Hill, despite her strong pitch range. It's even harder to comprehend what the muffled tones of Andrew Geater is singing as Pharoah unfortunately.


Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, jaymi Hensley
Henry Metcalfe as Jacob with Jaymi Hensley as Joseph


Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat's origins in the 1960s may explain some of the psychedelic, glam rock style crazy atmosphere in this show.

It retells the story of Joseph, the favourite son of Jacob, through song and cabaret-esque scenes of various music styles and costumes. That ranges from cowboy blues and French folk to calypso and rock n roll.

Following the story from when Joseph gets a coat of many colours, the tale unfolds as he is sold by his jealous brothers to merchants, locked up in Egypt and then uses his ability to make sense of dreams to become the Pharoah's right-hand man.

I had forgotten how madcap this show is. It is fun in a quirky way, but scenes like the Pharoah being depicted as Elvis - who was still alive when this musical was created - now seem a little dated.

There have been attempts to update it, which do help, such as additional new choreography from Gary Lloyd, who was involved with Thriller Live and Heathers. The troupe of brothers and handmaidens doing the dance routines give it a slicker more modern edge.

Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat, Birmingham Hippodrome, UK tour, jaymi Hensley
Andrew Geater as an Elvis themed Pharaoh


The highlight is, of course, the music, which still holds up fantastically well and seems to be the main crowd-pleaser. 'One More Angel In Heaven', 'Go,Go,Go Joseph', 'Any Dream Will Do' and the emotional 'Close Every Door' are the standout songs, but all the tracks get repeated with a dancey overhaul in a mini-concert finale.

By the way, the children's choir in Birmingham is provided by the city's School of Theatre Excellence (SOTE), who act and sing impeccably throughout the two and a quarter hour show.

Ultimately, Joseph's main appeal is that it is colourful fun with catchy, nostalgic songs. It's not the best of the Lloyd Webber-Rice collaborations but it does have its place in history as the first.

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Why? See musical favourite Joseph
When: Until 13 July in Birmingham
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham
Cost: From 16
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