One of the few remaining operatic musical theatre societies who are still standing strong after their establishment in the reign of Queen Victoria, The Nottingham Operatic Society performed the much loved Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, which stole the hearts of audience members spectating at the Theatre Royal.
“His lyrical voice and acting were sensational, showcasing his passion and talent as an actor”
After much praise and celebratory words from Andrew Lloyd Webber shown in the programme, The Nottingham Operatic Society showcased an amateur performance with a cast of all ages and abilities, all of whom showed passion not only in the performance, but for the original script itself. Lead actor Mark Coffey-Bainbridge stated “it had always been [his] dream to play the role of Joseph,” and this was clear through his acting. His lyrical voice and acting were sensational, showcasing his passion and talent as an actor.
The set itself was simple and at times I’d hoped that the performance showcased a few more backdrop and staging changes for different scenes. However, when considering the huge cast, it is understandable that only so much could be done with the space. Director Dave Partridge created a simple staircase set and triangular window at the back of the stage, and was able to utilise these in various creative ways during scenes, and reflect the many emotions that were performed.
A key way in which staging was used to reflect emotion was lighting. Lighting played a key part in mirroring the mood on stage, including bright blue lights to reflect sadness and a loss of hope. Another moment of commendable lighting is reflected in the opening and closing scenes of the play, when the cast sang and danced to ‘Any Dream Will Do.’ When singing about the many colours of Joseph’s coat, the lights changed to match the colours, turning the theatre truly technicolor.
“A modern, comedic and upbeat performance”
As the performance developed it was clear they tried to fit Joseph’s story around the 1970’s. The array of colourful clothes, and the representation of The Pharaoh (played by Dan Armstrong) as Elvis, created a modern, comedic and upbeat performance without jeopardising the original plot of the story as described in the bible.
“His talent and enthusiasm was sassy and sounded like something straight out of The Little Mermaid“
Another comedic moment was the scene of Judah and his brother’s singing for their brother Benjamin’s innocence. Judah, played by Ray McLeod braced the stage with a lei around his neck and sang a reggae/Hawaiian number. Sounding like Sebastian the crab, his talent and enthusiasm was sassy and sounded like something straight out of The Little Mermaid, bringing all audience members to laughter.
“They were able to balance between upbeat modern conventions and a more traditional approach”
Although extremely comedic, it was interesting to observe a change in mood for certain scenes. When Joseph was imprisoned by his slave master, the mood changed from a cheery and cheeky scene to a sorrowful one. Joseph was isolated on stage with a bright blue light and smoke, whilst the booming of lyrics “Do what you want with me, hate me and laugh at me” overwhelmed the audience. This showcased the versatility of The Nottingham Operatic Society, as they were able to balance between upbeat modern conventions and a more traditional approach.
The song ‘Close Every Door’ also serves as a reflection by Andrew Lloyd Webber on other historical situations, not only acting as a direct link to the Joseph story in the Old Testament, but also referring to the holocaust: “Just give me a number instead of my name.” The chilling scene and gloomy song and choreography, acted as a moment reflection half way through a happy and upbeat performance.
“A welcoming and wholesome performance which appealed to all members of the audience”
One thing that made The Nottingham Operatic Society’s performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat stand out compared to other performances was their diversity. From start to finish there were actors and actresses of all ages and abilities, and although some of the cast struggled to keep up with the choreography, the inclusion of so many people made their mistakes lovable, as it created a welcoming and wholesome performance which appealed to all members of the audience.
Another small criticism to make was that there were some technical difficulties. On some occasions the microphones were not switched on time, meaning some lyrics were not heard when different cast members were singing. Some microphones were also left on, meaning you could hear some words from those backstage by accident.
However, overall only some criticism can be given. The performance was sublime, and with Joseph showcasing his huge parachute-like dreamcoat in the final scene, it just summed up the performance in one word – spectacle.
Featured Image courtesy of Emma Heasman.