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Take your coat off for a fun night

Brotherly Love: Joseph's brothers celebrate being rid of him after selling him to passing slavers

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

WHEN it comes to feel-good shows then Joseph is right up there with the best brightening up a rainy night and leaving people happily heading home huddled under umbrellas humming Any Dream WIll Do - something they could well be humming for the next week

All right I know it is not exactly West Side Story or Les Mis and it has about the same substance as a marshmallow but it is fun, it is lively, and thanks to Keith Jack in the title role, it is bringing kids into the theatre to see a live show - which can't be a bad thing.

Dating back to a 15-minute prep-school piece in 1968 this show is older than a large part of the audience and most of the cast - apart from Henry Metcalfe's Jacob. 

Metcalfe, 66, is also the choreographer by the way.

But despite its age it still retains a freshness thanks to a cast who put everything into it, particularly the 11 brothers, from start to high octane finish. With half as much enthusiasm and energy in the England footy team we would have been World Champions!

Jack, runner up in BBC's Any Dream Will Do, showed then he had a fine voice and singing for a living instead of a dream has strengthened and improved. In a couple of places diction could be improved but the lad is only 22 and he is getting there.

Jack had previously played  The Narrator in the touring show and that role is now taken by American Trina Hill who has a superb voice. At five, incidentally, she appeared as Gretl in The Sound of Music in the wonderfully named Biloxi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast near her home town of Moss Point.

Keith Jack adds a touch of colour in the coat that led to his downfall and slavery

The plot is roughly true to the Bible story in Genesis, give or take a hoe down or two, blow up sheep . . . and Elvis. So we have Joseph sold into slavery by his 11 brothers, ending up in jail in Egypt where his interpretation of dreams  leads to his release as the trusted aide of Elvis or the Pharoah as the Egyptians knew him, played brilliantly by Lachlan Scheuber, uh uhhh, who also plays Levi one of the brothers - hope he gets double money.

The brothers, by the way, despite selling Joseph into slavery - and let's be honest he was a bit of a spoilt, pompous prig at the time, and he did not do badly out of the deal - are great fun and keep the show moving at a cracking pace.

The set is effective and simple enough to be able to change scenes without any break in the action and, showing the show's school production roots, the choir, made up of children from Stagecoach, Solihull, and Stagecoach, Sutton Coldfield - the theatre schools not the bus and coach company - are on stage all the time providing backing when needed and to their credit, and that of director and producer Bill Kenwright, they are hardly noticed, blending in with the scenery.

The result is an entertaining evening which just flies by and brought a deserved standing ovation for energy and enthusiasm alone. To 12-09-10.

Roger Clarke 

Elvis is back in the building - an interview with Keith Jack

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