Thursday, March 03, 2005

any dream will do

With March one would expect spring to be rearing its wonderful head. Instead the Siberian winds that the newscasters forcasted are whirling around the house sounding like lost ghosts. Snow has closed schools around South-east England (mainly Kent) and although there hasn't been more than a few flurries and a light dusting of snow in London, its been raining and windbeaten for about 10 days now. To lift our spirits and bring a little cheer to our cold bones we did what was desperately needed - we watched Jospeph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane.

The combination of live orchestra and theatre can be magical. This was a wonderful musical and all the elements played together effortlessly and melded perfectly. Credit to finding out details, a source of cheap tickets and inspiring us to be more London tourist-y goes to my cousin A; credit to buying the tickets goes to V; and credit for watching and enjoying goes to all 5 of us (V, A, me and our friends, the globe-trotting couple).

An internet search told me that Joseph was originally presented in London's West End at the Albery Theatre in 1973 for a seven month run. Since then this Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice collaboration has been revived in the West End a number of times -including a major revival at the London Palladium in June 1991 starring Jason Donovan and which ran for over two years being seen by over two million people (missed that by 15 years then!). Apparently Joseph has been toured in the in the UK extensively since 1979 (even entering The Guinness Book of Records as the longest running touring stage musical of all time!).

The musical is based on the Biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors; Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, but his eleven siblings resent the attention Jacob showers upon him and conspire to kill him. At the last moment they decide to sell him into slavery, and eventually Joseph finds himself in jail in Egypt. However, his favorable interpretation of the dreams of the Pharaoh win him freedom and using his powers of interpretation he forcasts the 7 year famine and implements rationing to make sure that all in the land are fed. He wins the admiration of the Pharoah and soon Joseph is one of the most powerful men in Egypt. In the meanwhile Jacob and the eleven sons fall on hard times and come to Egypt in search of food. Long story short, they all reconcile and live happily ever after!

An ancient tale has been most succesfully turned into a rollicking mixture of vaudevillian turns, country & western, calypso, 50's rock & roll. Joseph was played by Darren Day and the story was narrated by Suzanne Shaw. Both had sparkling voices and great stage presence. The set was fabulous and the musical fast paced (90 minutes just whizzed by). I was mesmerised and enjoyed singing along when there was a song I knew. The Benjamin Calypso and the Pharoah of Egypt depicted as Elvis Presley were inpired. The chorus was made up of about 30 school kids with pure innocent voices and was supported by an excellent orchestra. The repetoire of songs included some truly unforgettable numbers including Any Dream Will Do (my all time favorite buzzing endlessly in my head ever since), Close Every Door to Me and One More Angel. What I loved the most was that the cast was super-charged and quite apparently having a ball.

A delightful evening by any standards......and I'm dreaming of spring now!

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