Last night saw the opening of the long-standing hit musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Now fifty years running, the shows first performance was on March 1st 1967 in London. Now 50 years later, it is telling the story of Joseph and more and still wooing audiences worldwide. Last night it certainly wooed the Derry audience and had them on their feet like never before.
Having seen this musical a number of times in Derry I really didn't know if I would see much difference this time around. Different Joe, but same show? Yeah? No!
The opening performance last night at Derry's Millennium Forum was bigger, livelier, more colourful, and just something a bit more special. To say it was spectacular seems such an understatement. But it was.
The stage was big and bold. The cast were big and bold. The choir were little and brilliant. Even the audience were big and bold. I have never seen a Derry audience behave as such last night. They were dancing, clapping, cheering throughout and the end spectacle was just memorable in the same audience. Seeing the enjoyment of young and old really made last night something special.
Having had the pleasure to speak with Joesph, Joe McElderry last week, I knew it would be a show to look forward to after all these years. But the ever humble, exceptionally talented McElderry could never have prepared me for what I saw on that Derry stage from 7.30pm.
Lucy Kay, from Britain's Got Talent, really stole the show for me. She excelled in telling us the story of Joseph and his family through song throughout the entirety of the show. Never faltering a note, she allowed us to see how a family can become lost and yet there is always hope. Reconciliation is
always possible. Kay was simply outstanding.
The cast were alive on stage last night. It was clear they each enjoy the show. Huge smiles from the stage matched those from the audience. But there was one just a little bit brighter. One cannot take it away from Joe McElderry. Quite simply he was phenomenal. Joseph has never looked and sounded this good. His portrayal really did tug on the heartstrings, and showed how one really can come home, after a long estrangement. Beneath it all, the lights, the colour, the music, there really is a lovely simple, moral. Family means everything.
I hadn't expected to travel to Cannan, Paris, the Carribean and Egypt when I left home yesterday evening for Derry, but that's exactly how it felt. Culture from far and wide was very much incorprated into the show. And of course there was Elvis. The Elvis-inspired Pharaoh. Ben James-Ellis won the crowd in every way. He had the old ladies rocking in their seats and dancing in their rows. He really did bring a little bit of rock'n'roll to the show. And it worked.
Being a biker chic myself I was of course very impressed when Joseph arrived home from Egypt on a rather cool bike. Very impressive indeed.
I first saw this show in Derry with my young son (approx 7) about 12 years ago. That same young son is going along on Friday night with his now girlfriend. This was his first introduction to musical theater. He has returned again and again. I will be very keen to hear his feedback on Friday night. But I know they will both be blown away with this show yet again. It blew him away as a young boy. Now it's set to blow him away as a young man.
Why is Joseph still so popular after 50 years? It really is timeless. The music is such that everyone and every age can enjoy and appreciate. And this is one show in which the music really does tell the full story. Ben Johnson once said of Shakespeare, "He was not of an age, but for all time." Such it is with this show. I don't doubt it will continue for many years to come and continue to win audiences' hearts at every turn.
Joseph runs at Derry's Millennium Forum until this coming Saturday night. When I say it's a show you really won't regret going to see, trust me. You really will walk away on air. It's that good.
Tickets can be bought at the box office by calling 02871264455 or here at Joseph tickets.