Go Go Go see Ipswich ctc’s Joseph at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon Parker

The Children’s Theatre Company Ipswich were in the middle of the 10-minute mega-mix finale of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when I arrived. How the cast had the energy to then run through the full show afterwards remains a mystery.

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon Parker

“Auditions were early September and we started rehearsals mid-September. It’s the shortest rehearsal period we’ve had so it’s been rather intense,” says Bridie Rowe, the company’s artistic director.

The 60-plus cast, ranging from six to 19 years old, buzz with excitement and nerves around the grand hall of Ipswich Corn Exchange during this last rehearsal before they decamp to The Apex, where the show runs from December 29 to January 2. Rowe is preoccupied with how close the taped-out area on the floor resembles the size of the actual stage in Bury St Edmunds. She doesn’t want anybody ending up in the pit with the band.

“Most shows consume me but this one fully has. I admit I probably approached Joseph thinking it was going to be a bit easier. It’s a shorter show, I’ve seen it lots of times and think it’s really fun (I) just didn’t realise how complex it is. I think that’s a lot of people’s opinions.

“It’s four-part harmony pretty much start to finish, you have a 30-plus piece choir of youngsters plus your 20-plus regular cast, it’s choreographed from beginning to end... But it’s been one of the most enjoyable I’ve done and there’s a real buzz around the show. It’s a really feelgood, upbeat show. It’s really fast-paced, you won’t have any time to be bored.”

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon Parker


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The Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical is the Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colours. His prophetic dreams anger his jealous brothers who sell him into slavery where his adventures truly begin. Watching the run-through, you remember how many great songs it includes from Any Dream Will Do to Close Every Door, sung in everything from country and western to calypso.

“What’s lovely, unlike any other show we’ve done the (whole) cast are involved from start to finish. They’re either on stage for most of it or off in the vocal booth singing the harmonies (so there’s) a real team feel,” says Rowe.

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Unlike previous years, the academy and company are separate with youngsters having to audition to make it into the latter.

“We’re doing a showcase within the academy this year, adding an extra show just for fun, because we don’t have enough,” she laughs. “Each year we get new people come on board which is nice, it freshens it up. Maia Elsey, who played Éponine in Les Miserables in 2013, hasn’t really been in a lead since then. She’s playing the narrator and we’re pushing her vocally. The things she’s doing with her voice is insane, that’s all I’m saying.”

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon

The Children's Theatre Company rehearse their production of Joseph, coming to The Apex. Photo: Simon Parker

Elsey, along with Sam Brown as Joseph, were especially good. Not that it’s easy to stand out among such a talented company.

“We are blessed. As much as I feel like I know them (the youngsters), and I’ve known them for years; they’ll always surprise you - especially in an audition situation. You think ‘I feel I know what you can do’ and they come in and you’re like ‘oh’. The kind of kids we’ve got are always challenging themselves.”

With no scenery, no lighting, no band and no costumes - save Joseph’s famed coat - it’s hard to get a full feel for the show. There was clearly still work to be done before opening night. What you could see was the hard work that’s gone into sustaining the high standard the ctc is becoming famed for.

Honestly, Joseph isn’t one of my favourites so it’s a testament to all involved how much I enjoyed what I saw. It was a confident performance, from the strong vocals and challenging choreography to the acting. The Canaan Days routine was particularly funny.

“It’s a good show to go to after West Side Story which was so intense... This is really energetic, a real family show. The kids will love it,” adds Rowe.

This will be the ctc’s first time at The Apex.

“It’s very difficult in Ipswich at Christmas because there’s already so much here of such a great standard. Obviously, you’ve got the New Wolsey panto which I went to the other day which is fantastic. Backstreet’s Back, I went back to being a 15-year-old girl. You’ve also got the Regent panto,” says Rowe.

“I’ve seen a couple of shows at The Apex and I teach at Bury so have some connections there. It’s absolutely beautiful, really good acoustics... What’s really exciting there is if we establish ourselves you can set the stage up in loads of different ways so we can be quite creative. And it’s yet another performance space for the youngsters to try and that’s all good experience. We’re all really excited.”

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