Æ Review – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Nov 19 2010 | By More

★★★☆☆    Dream home

Trina Hill and Keith Jack

Keith Jack comes home in a dream

By Thom Dibdin

The big dream finally came true for Keith Jack this week when the Dalkeith singer stepped out onto the Edinburgh Playhouse stage in the title role of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

It wasn’t any old dream either, as 22 year-old Jack came a close second in BBC1’s Any Dream Will Do. He might already have played the narrator in previous tours to the same venue, but this was the role he wanted, and this was the theatre he wanted to play it in.

“I was very, very nervous to start with,” Jack revealed just a few minutes after the show’s final standing ovation. “It is a relief now and it was a great audience tonight. It was a buzz, it really was a buzz to finally step on the Playhouse stage as Joseph.”

In the event, Jack’s performance added a much needed spark to a production which had been ominously dull for its opening half an hour. Trina Hill sang the narrator – the role which Jack made his own in the 2007 tour when Craig Chalmers sang Joseph. She has a lovely voice, but no real sense of storytelling or ability to annunciate her lines.

Henry Metcalfe, who is also the show’s choreographer, was woefully underpowered in both his roles of Joseph’s dad Jacob, and Potiphar the millionaire who buys Joseph as a slave when he is taken to Egypt in chains and sold.

It wasn’t exactly bad, just half-hearted. Everywhere, from blow-up sheep which only part-inflated to handmaids who plodded when they should have tripped lightly, the production did a disservice to Tim Rice’s lyrics and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music.

The only really shining stars were the 40 schoolchildren singing all the chorus lines behind the Narrator. Clear of voice and, most importantly, of diction, they kept the mood buoyant. It says a lot that there was time to count – and then check – that there were in fact 40 of them on stage.

At the point when it all seemed to be going downhill fast with Joseph clapped into chains, Keith Jack was left on stage alone, to perform “Close Every Door”.

It is a defining number for any Joseph, many would argue it is the defining number, and Jack’s full-bodied, mature voice combined with a real understanding of the lyrics to get it just about right.

It was a big four-star performance in an an overall three-star show. It showed just how far Jack has come in the last three years and, tellingly, from that moment on the whole production picked up its energy levels.

“He should have been here tonight.”

After the show Jack revealed that the moment was particularly poignant for him. He has been inspired by his family and friends, he said, “especially my granddad, who is no longer here. He inspired me when I was growing up and he still does. During Close Every Door, I got quite emotional because I was thinking he should have been here tonight.”

Not only that, but Jack really looked the part. He is still fresh faced enough to be able to pull off the early scenes when Joseph is running around annoying his elder brothers. But stripped to the waist and thrown unceremoniously into jail, and you see a completely different kind of physique.

“I enjoyed playing the narrator, but it is just nice to finally get Joseph,” he says, before revealing the work he has had to put in. “Before this tour I worked hard, went to the gym and that. I had to get to the gym to get the abs showing and stuff. I do enjoy it – I think I’ve become addicted to it now! I feel like I have grown a lot since the last time I was here.”

The energy was sustained through into the second half, too, with Lachlan Scheuber excellent as Pharaoh. And as Jack revealed, it is his favourite part of the whole production.

“I do like all the Prince of Egypt stuff where I get to tell the brothers off,” he admitted with a grin. “I do really enjoy that bit a lot more than the first bit where I am running around like a 12 year old boy. I enjoy being a bit more commanding and a bit more determined about what I am going to do. That kind of stuff suits me as a performer, I just really enjoy it. Everyone always sees me as this smily boy – and I am, but on stage I become a different person.”

So was he really too young when he was pipped to the post in the final of Any Dream Will Do?

“I was only 18 at the time, which is a big difference to now I am 22,” he says. “So yeah, I am enjoying it now and I feel that I can go out and give the performance that I maybe couldn’t have given back then. I have more maturity and stage presence. Also my vocal performance is stronger. There is more edge and more of an operatic sound to my voice. Which makes me sound older, more like Joseph.”

Jack’s granddad would have certainly enjoyed it, and judging from the number of people on their feet at the end – together with the obligatory shout out of “We Love You Keith!” – the packed audience did too.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs to Sunday 21 November 2010 at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Playhouse Website.

Joseph on tour 2010:
16 – 21 Nov Edinburgh Playhouse 0844 847 1660
23 – 28 Nov Lyceum Theatre
0114 239 6060
2011 Tour Keith Jack will star as Joseph in the following venues:
18 – 23 Jan Mayflower Theatre,
02380 711811
25 – 30 Jan Festival Theatre,
01684 892277
1 – 6 Feb The Hexagon,
0118 960 6060
8 – 13 Feb Empire Theatre,
0844 847 24 99
15 – 20 Feb Charter Theatre,
0845 344 2012
22 – 27 Feb Hippodrome Theatre,
0844 847 2325
1 – 6 Mar Grand Theatre,
01902 429212
8 – 13 Mar Grimsby Auditorium,
0844 847 2426
15 – 20 Mar Orchard Theatre,
01322 220000
22 – 26 Mar Grand Theatre,
0844 848 2706
29 Mar – 3 Apr Empire Theatre,
0844 847 2525
5 – 10 Apr Congress Theatre,
01323 412000
12 – 17 Apr The Broadway Theatre,
19 – 23 Apr New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646
26 Apr – 8 May Hamilton Town House,
10 – 15 May Grove Theatre,
01582 60 20 80
17 – 22 May Princess Theatre,
0844 847 2315
24 – 29 May Wyvern Theatre,
01793 524 481
31 May – 12 Jun Grand Canal Theatre,
0818 719 377
21 – 26 Jun Theatre Royal,
08448 717 650
5 – 10 Jul Grand Theatre,
01792 475715
12 – 17 Jul Regent Theatre,
0844 871 7649
19 – 24 Jul Eden Court Theatre,
01463 234234


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