Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds,

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, September 2

Bury’s big, bold new hall is the perfect place for a large cast to tell the Genesis story of Jacob’s favourite son who is sold into slavery by his eleven jealous brothers. And the local group, The Voice Squad, bring it to life with tremendous confidence and sparkle.

Joseph seems to be utterly out of luck when he is bought by Potiphar because his master’s randy missus fancies him like mad and finally gets him thrown in jail when he won’t play ball.

Fortunately Pharaoh’s butler is also in jail but he gets out and persuades Egypt’s mighty leader to allow Joseph to divine the meaning behind his complicated dream about cows and corn. “What you saw in your pyjamas/ Is a long-range forecast for the farmers,” he tunefully predicts.

Famine is averted, Joseph becomes Pharaoh’ powerful right-hand man and has a bit of teasing revenge with his starving brothers before forgiving them and being re-united with his father’s gift of a coat of many colours.

The musical is completely sung through with no dialogue and the stage is almost permanently packed with talented teenagers singing beautifully, moving with precision and dancing with grace on the wide stage.

But, best of all, director Birgitta Kenyon has imbued the whole cast with a tremendous sense of fun and they have found the tongue-in-cheek mood that it is clear the authors saw in the piece. So it is that Douglas Sands sings Pharoah’s Song dressed and sounding like Elvis; in Those Canaan Days there’s a tango and the characters wear berets and use an amusing French accent.

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Tony Rapsey sings a good Joseph in numbers like Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door and Lewis Sinnadurai-Allum does very well as Reuben (One More Angel in Heaven) among eleven strong-voiced brothers. But this is very much an ensemble piece, simply but very effectively staged, and made special by some extremely finely-tuned choral singing.

The wide range of colourful, happy, lusty performances are given great backing by a 15-piece orchestra with clever arrangements that underline the individual numbers and enhance some of Lloyd Webber’s best melodies.

David Henshall.