By Kat Hind
The Collingwood College Woodplayers’ performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was an extremely entertaining production. The cast have clearly enjoyed putting together this ambitious performance and although unpolished, the outcome was a very fun and enjoyable show that celebrated the individual, stylised roles along with its leads.
The lead roles of the Narrator played by Meg Duffy and Arthur Lewis as Joseph were both well cast. The two harmonised excellently throughout the performance and were confident singers. Duffy worked well with the cast; however, her movement around the stage was often hesitant and would have been improved by committing to her choreography and gestures, making them look more deliberate and purposeful. In contrast to this Lewis succeeded in creating a larger than life, slapstick Joseph for a cast whose talent clearly lies in comedy. This over-exaggerated, physical portrayal was matched by his strong singing voice. Although Lewis struggled – along with the rest of the cast – with the low notes of the songs, hampering understanding of some narration, his powerful mid-range voice created a strong overall performance.
Altogether, the stars of this show truly came in the group work of the eleven brothers whose individually crafted characters led to a colourful, vivid and exciting onstage ambience. The harmonies between the group were exceptional and their acting was by the far the best aspect of the whole show. Unfortunately, certain songs were under-rehearsed and poorly cast, for example in ‘One More Angel in Heaven’ the lyrics were missed as the song was simply too low for Ellen Slater to hit. Additionally, during this song the cast seemed unsure as to when in the music the lyrics came, which meant that the piece stood out as a weak point in the overall performance. This contrasts greatly with what was by the far the best moment of the show featuring Shayon Banerji as Simeon in the song ‘Those Canaan Days.’ A strong feature of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the stylised music which switches genres throughout, from Country music to Rock and Roll. This particular song was a comedic take on a French ballad and Banjeri’s superb acting, fantastic interaction with the rest of the cast, and harmonious singing voice left the audience amazed.
The performance as a whole was brilliant, but the main downfall was in its choreography. The moves were simplistic and effective when executed together as a cast but this was rare. For the most part, the cast lacked synchronicity and heavy dance numbers became messy and distracting. Equally the dance interludes which consisted of two dancers coming on stage for short dance pieces were confusing and out of place with the rest of the show. They seemed unnecessary and didn’t add anything to an otherwise strong ensemble.
With regards to the production value, the set was simplistic but worked on what was (for the most part) a busy and filled stage. The costumes were again simple but effective with bright colours distinguishing each character from another. The lighting was on the whole utilised well with a star backdrop creating an appropriately mystical feeling on stage. The spotlight could have been used more effectively if placed correctly and set still, but this should improve over time. Similarly, the amount of dry ice used was overpowering and hindered some of the visuals. If this is used sparingly though, the effect would be another excellent addition.
Overall the show is strong and capitalises on the cast’s excellent acting abilities. Some parts of the musical have clearly been rehearsed more than others though and this does lead to an inconsistent narrative. For a fun, slapstick musical however, this is certainly the show to go and see this week.
‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ will be performed in Collingwood College from Thursday, 9th March until Sunday 12th March at 19:30. Book your tickets here.
Photograph: Samuel Kirkman