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JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (article first published : 2000-07-19)

The principal of the Northcliff High School in Gauteng is a rare individual with forward-looking principles, believing that if the school’s sports teams can represent the school in “away” matches, so can those involved in the school’s other activities.

Thankfully, this involves a highly-motivated drama section led by Nick Jourdan who has directed an impressive number of annual musicals for Northcliff. Last year, the school brought the 1999 show Chicago to Durban to see if it would be favourably received. It was a great success which is why the Playhouse Drama is currently hosting Northcliff’s 2000 production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which runs until July 22.

Chicago is a highly sophisticated musical which requires a certain level of singing ability and dramatic maturity. No such demands are made of the cast of Joseph, the first collaboration of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Created to be performed by schoolchildren, Joseph is uncomplicated and breezy - all fun and frolic with some rattling good tunes.

Director Nick Jourdan, assisted by Sam Wilke, Sharon Heatlie and Lizl Wilkins, has created an enjoyable Joseph for Northcliff, using the written humour to good advantage and injecting a good deal of his own. After the overture, the auditorium is invaded by two groups dressed in pith helmets and shorts à la David Livingstone, carrying lanterns and inspecting the audience minutely. The reason? We’re in an ancient Egyptian burial chamber and we’re all mummies, some better preserved than others! An ancient book is found, two narrators emerge from the group to pick up Joseph’s story and the rest of the “explorers” take up their position on the platform as the backing singers.

The cast acquitted themselves well and sustained performances of the kind that bodes well for any future professional theatre work came from James MacEwan as Joseph and Ruth Millson who played one of the narrators. They both appeared in Chicago last year: A good potential song and dance man is Frank van der Linde (Dan) while with maturity and more control Justin Taylor (Simeon/Butler) will make a good comedy actor.

Other good performances came from Sibusiso Mbatha as Potiphar, Rigel Andreoli as Jacob, Lyall Ramsden in the steal-the-show part of Pharoah and Olivia Vermaak as the second narrator.

In total, the cast acquitted themselves well and if there were occasionally 12 brothers when there logically should only have been ten, who was counting? The musicians were augmented by local KZNPO members Cathy Peacock (trumpet) and Ian Holloway (clarinet).

It is a major undertaking for a high school to undertake an “away” trip with a company of 65 made up of cast, crew, musicians and staff who must be transported, fed, accommodated and kept safe until they are deposited back home to their families. Northcliff is to be commended highly for their efforts and long may we see their productions in Durban.

Performances nightly at 19h30 with matinees at 14h30 on July 19 and 22. Book at Ticketweb.




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