One of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s best loved shows, Joseph has returned once again to Milton Keynes Theatre as it celebrates its 50th year.
This is a firm audience favourite with songs that have stood the test of time but it’s been given a new lease of life with an outstanding lead performance from Union J’s Jaymi Hensley who gives an emotional and powerful portrayal of Joseph.
The show is based on an Old Testament tale of Jacob’s unusually large large litter of a dozen male children including Joseph who is his Dad’s favourite and gives him a very nice rainbow striped coat. This doesn’t go down well with his brothers who find him smug and annoying, especially when he tells them he has a dream that he will rule over them. So they sell him as a slave and rip up his coat. Then things get even worse for Joseph as he is imprisoned and tortured. But will his dream still somehow come true?
Jaymi says there was something about the character which he could relate to. “I had people at school, who told me I couldn’t be what I wanted to be. I’m a dreamer; I wanted to be a star. I also had something that made me different; being a gay man and finding out at a young age. I always had my head in the clouds, but I was always sure of who I was and I never let what anyone said deter me. That’s how I approached Joseph, with the message that as long as you stand by who you are, eventually the rest of the world will see how wonderful you are too.”
This touring version of Joseph has had many incarnations with lead performances from the likes of Joe McElderry and H from Steps but Jaymi Hemsley takes the show to a different level from other productions with a phenomenal performance.
There is a real sincerity and passion to his Joseph and a raw emotion to his performance of Close Every Door towards the end of the first act. He caps it off with a brilliant reprise of Any Dream Will Do when he is reunited with Jacob which will leave you in no doubt that he really belongs in this role. Jaymi has a very successful future ahead of him on the stage if he can keep up the passion and integrity of this performance.
Alongside him are a strong cast with Trina Hill as the Narrator giving a solid performance and a show stopping entrance by Andrew Geater as the Pharaoh in classic Elvis style. Special mention should also go to Amber Kennedy who gives a spectacular tango performance in the second act.
Local kids from Arts1 form the chorus and do a great job of sitting very still and looking straight ahead for long periods of time on stage between their singing.
There is a great sound system pumping out the songs and it was great to see even the techies on the sound desk dancing to the music.
At the end of the show, as the audience gave him a standing ovation, Jaymi said he had seen his first theatre show at Milton Keynes Theatre and that it was a special night for him to be performing in his home town. And judging by the reaction on the opening night, the audience were equally thrilled to have him here.
If you’ve seen Joseph before, this show will go way beyond your expectations and if you’ve never been, there’s no better way to experience it. It’s a real feelgood show for the whole family which will leave you whistling the music for weeks.