What a strange time we are living through right now. Life has changed for everyone and like many, I’m realising the many things I took for granted before the lockdown, as well as the many things I am grateful for in my life. One of those things is getting to perform with talented friends in a room full of happy, smiling people.
My first and possibly last major production of the year was in the Bradfordian’s production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. This was special for many reasons. The show was one that my family would play in the car to keep me and my older brother and sister happy. We would head-bob along to the happy, catchy tune of Andrew Lloyd Webber and sing the lyrics of Tim Rice out loud. For information, the other musical we listened in the car was the Sound of Music. Both soundtracks become enormously comforting to me during my childhood.
The other reasons for this production being special were all due to the personnel that put so much time, effort and enthusiasm into the show.
The leaders included Director, Kate Courage who not only directed and put together a tremendous group of performers, she also played the piano as part of a super-dynamic trio of keys, percussion/accordion and bass guitar. Our choreography was creatively conceived and patiently taught to us by Georgiana Snelling. Many of us were musicians or actors first, so the dancing really brought us together as we were desperate to, if not master it, at least get the moves in the right order.
The talented and friendly performers were terrific. Saxon was a young Joseph, high on confidence, experience, gym-ready- physique and long on hair. He was perfect for the part! Then the very experienced but still very young Astrid Bishop held the ship together as the engaging narrator. The rest of the cast spanned a large age range, with brothers and angels still in the single digits to Jacob and his more mature sons of fifty years of age and above. This mixture of youthful enthusiasm and experience is what gave the production drive.
Finally, there’s the x-factor. Issues always come up during the rehearsals that can make or break a show. I was once in a production of School for Scandal in Holt that managed to cling on and put on a show despite several people having to drop out or perform with virtually no voice. For this production of Joseph, the magical ingredient was the people who came in when we didn’t have the full compliment of brothers. Pete and Andrew were parents of child performers who had no previous inclination to be on the stage. Julian was a Bradfordian actor but had never performed in a musical before. Oscar joined his brother Seb in the group and grew in confidence as the production went on. It was wonderful seeing their apprehension turn into enthusiasm when they realised how fun it was and that they could do it.
The show-week was fascinating as this was also the wettest February in Britain on record and the river Avon had already burst its banks. Fortunately, it didn’t stop our dress rehearsal and didn’t dampen any of the performances. Having a very young audience (especially for the matinee performances) gave the performances even more focus and energy. It’s a very quick show both in duration and the fast-flowing story. This means that no performer, stage manager or musician is ever at a loss for something to do.
Things I’ll remember from this performance were the use of Toblerone, the humorous wooden camel on wheels, the energy from the performers and the confetti cannon. If only every day had a confetti cannon…
I’ll end with this thought. In the musical, Joseph’s life was suddenly changed, and he found himself having to make do under difficult circumstances. Things got worse before they got better, but he adapted and transformed into a better version of himself.
Have hope. Stay safe. Lots of love. x