A Technicolour Triumph
Eamon McNally sees the results of Music Theatre4Youth's 'musical in a weekend'
I am a grumpy old man. I should not get a lump in my throat when I go to the theatre. Nothing is that good.
This was different. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat first opened in 1968, and by 1991 had expanded into a two-hour extravaganza, starring Jason Donovan.
Music Theatre4Youth's 'musical in a weekend', open to all, is rehearsed and staged in three days, with no budget.
This was theatre in the most Elizabethan style: child actors, no scenery, no costumes and no microphones, some talent, youthful exuberance and absolute commitment.
Tonight’s production was directed by international heavyweight Vernon Mound, director of music theatre at the University of Gothenburg, and a man who works with the leading artists in London’s West End.
Choreographer Anthoula Papadakis works with top professional companies across Europe.
The cast, between 11 and 22 years old, is drawn from Coleraine and the surrounding area.
From the first scene the choreography worked its magic. The players entered one by one, sharing the prologue, with the chorus joining them through the auditorium singing ‘Any Dream Will Do’.
The effect was intimate and the stage presence of the players captured the audiences' sympathy from the start.
By the time we had reached ‘Joseph’s Coat’, it was clear that no concession had been made to the youth of the players or the brevity of rehearsal.
Complex and detailed choreography requires precision, timing and coordination, and in this production it works beautifully.
There may have been a few minor errors, but the luminous expressions and animation of the cast shone through.
‘One More Angel in Heaven’ showcased some of the more experienced youngsters, as did ‘Poor Poor Pharaoh’ in which they delivered a relaxed, polished, yet innocent performance.
The greatest strength of this production is the bond that had developed amongst the company.
Close teamwork was always in evidence and the few mistakes always drew support and cover from colleagues.
There were no passengers on the stage. Every one threw themselves at the performance as if they were a star.
When they sing their way through the twenty nine colours of Joseph’s coat, they end with a magician’s trick, coloured veils appearing from somewhere about the black slacks and shirts in which the show is performed.
That is when I got my lump in the throat. I was not alone.
After the finale, a full house rose to its feet in spontaneous applause. There is nothing quite like a standing ovation and never have I seen one so graciously received.
This was a special event, and the audience did need to be aware of the production's circumstances - they were a feature of the show.
The production needed no apology, however, and could stand on an equal footing with many amateur and professional productions - ones which take a lot more time and money.