Courtesy of my foster sister’s new adoptive parents, Little Sis and I went to see the annual tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the weekend. (I would have written this post earlier but COURSEWORK happened.)
It was the UK Tour that comes to the Lyceum every year, this year’s performance starring someone from “Any Dream Will Do” – otherwise known as “Andrew Lloyd Webber tries and fails to be Simon Cowell”. I have tremendous respect for Lloyd Webber’s music, but in person he’s not very interesting. And a bit slimy. And looks kind of like a toad.
Anyway, the guy’s name was Keith Jack, or Jackson, or Jack Keith, or… something.
He seems to have done pretty well for himself considering he didn’t actually win “Any Dream Will Do” – and although he’s an excellent singer, you can sort of see why. Not to say he was bad, the performance was tremendous fun to watch, it’s just obvious that he was chosen for his voice and not his acting skills as well. He seemed to be limited to three facial expressions: happy/bemused, sad/bemused, and… bemused. He was very good at bemused.
Perhaps I’m biased, though – there will only ever be one production for me, and that’s the 1990’s movie with Donnie Osmond. Maria Friedman does the best narrator, one that actually interacts with the characters without making it cheesy, and I’ve never yet seen a guy play Joseph better than Osmond did. Guessing by the little “aww”s and schoolgirl giggles she makes whenever we watch it, I think my mother would agree – she’s had a crush on the guy for rolling on thirty years, that’s dedication.
I’ve noticed something about all productions of Joseph, however – there always seems to be some sort of unspoken (or maybe it is spoken, I don’t know) rule about how to cast the brothers, a sort of checklist.
– The brother with insane amounts of hair
– The fat brother for comedic value
– The inexplicably black brother – maybe Jacob’s even more of a pimp than the multiple wives would suggest. Invariably drafted in to sing the “Benjamin Calypso”
– The one who spends the entire performance looking bored
And the rest can be whatever you want, usually just indistinguishable skinny white guys with beards glued on.
It was odd seeing it from the audience’s perspective, though – last time I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat live, I was IN it. Because the touring group can’t take half a gazillion backing-choir kids around the country with them, they just borrow the lower-school choir from a random school wherever they’re performing.
It seems funny to me now, given that these days I refuse to sing in front of anything with a pulse, but I managed to get into the choir for Joseph somehow. And so, every night for a week, I sat on a small step on-stage, almost completely hidden behind a cardboard palm tree (wasn’t a happy bunny about that last bit, it has to be said). It went fairly uneventfully, with the exception of one night. “Joseph” was ill so instead we got the understudy, who seemed to have a certain disregard for underwear – so when it came to the second half and he bowed down to Pharaoh wearing nothing but a loincloth, a whole section of the choir saw everything.
But like the brothers, there’s also a checklist for the kids’ choir – the kids that stand out for whatever reason:
– The one kid who’s desperately trying to catch the narrator’s eye
– “I’m here because my Mum made me”
– The kid who’s clearly trying, bless ’em, but can’t sing or clap in time for squat
– “I’m freakishly tall for my age”
– The one kid who’s clearly at least two years older than everyone else there
– The kid who’s sat behind a cut-out palm tree for the WHOLE FREAKING PERFORMANCE SO HER MOTHER PAID A TENNER NOT TO EVEN SEE HER ON STAGE AT ALL WHICH KINDA DEFEATS THE POINT DON’T YOU THINK–
I’m not bitter, I swear.