An illuminated, colorful reinvention of a well-known classic.
by Louw Mulder
Set to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the lyrics by Tim Rice, Pieter Toerien Productions, through the direction of Paul Warwick Griffin, once again brought a stellar production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to the stage. This time, this biblical story was a reinvented festival of colorful lights, song and dance, through the energy from the most perfect cast you could’ve assembled.
Thinking back to the opening performance, I clearly remember the astounding lighting design by multi-award winner Gareth Hewitt Williams, who created a world with lights, making this a Technicolor Dreamshow, where not all was just about the coat… The enchanting lighting design, made up of hundreds of colors, contributed immensely to this staging’s rejuvenated magic, and did so quite efficaciously.
The spirit of this production was also captured by the energetic moves on stage and hats off to choreographer Duane Alexander for what he has conjured up. The show’s fast paced and energetic dynamism, exploded in a well-groomed display of perfectly executed choreography, which was a result of harmonious teamwork from every member of this young and professional cast. The calibre of Alexander’s choreography was world class, as what you’d come to expect from someone with his experience. Alexander made his Musical Theatre debut in Pieter Toerien’s Production of Cats, in 2001.
Another winner of numerous awards for his musical direction, is Louis Zurnamer, who took this show’s music under his baton. Together with the musical supervision of Charl-Johan Lingerfelder, they created the audible journey of the magic, with excellence brought to the arrangements, the collaboration of all 12 brother’s voices, and just the overall musical in general. New life was added to familiar songs like Go, go, go Josepeh, Close every door to me, and the most famous of them all, Any Dream will Do.
The cast of this production is a hot and sexy ensemble of South Africa’s elite theatre performers, and also introduces upcoming artists, like Michael McMeeking, who is making his professional debut starring in Joseph. It was quite evident that talent and fitness were amongst all the other requirements for this show, which brought along an energetic display of their love for theatre. Ranging from dance captain Darren Greeff, to names like Richard Gau, Louise Duhain, Mila De Biaggi, Emil Haarhoff and Sonwa Sakuba, to mention a few, the whole cast played their parts perfectly, in support of the holistic production.
In the lead roles, were Earl Gregory who played Joseph, and Bianca le Grange as the Narrator. Gregory won the Naledi for best newcomer in 2005 and le Grange took home the Naledi for best female performance in a Musical in 2014, for her performance in Blood Brothers. With this being said, it is no surprise that Gregory and le Grange was part of the key factors that brought all the multiple elements of this show together.
I have to highlight the performance of Jarryd Nurden who was playing the roles of Issachar and the butler. It was as though he featured in almost every scene, and in doing so, Nurden magnificently showcased his talent, techniques, and versatility, through every different style and genre in this production. Nurden was previously seen in Cats, Starlight Express, and lately, Singin’ in the Rain, which played in the Teatro at Montecasino earlier this year. Most impressive and captivating about Nurden’s performance, was the enjoyment and dedication shown in his eyes and facial impressions, throughout both acts.
Last, but by no means the least, was the performance of Jonathan Roxmouth, who once again showed off why he is the top theatre actor currently in South Africa. As winner of the Best Musical Actor award at this year’s Naledi’s, Roxmouth brought an impeccable performance in the role of the Pharaoh. His experience added to his distinctive style, to the way he captivates the audience, and without effort, making his character the highlight of the show. Playing in Lloyd Webber musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Phantom of the Opera and now Joseph, there is no doubt that his upcoming album, My Lloyd Webber, will be huge success.
In the end, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat took me to so many different places, stylistically and colorfully. It was a real experience, and a proudly South-African showcase.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will run at the Pieter Toerien Theatre in Montecasino until the 7th of August. You can also stand a chance to win one of 5 double tickets to this production.
Go, Go, Go Joseph!