Dreams come true in musical

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 May, 1998, 12:00am

LYRICIST Tim Rice explained the Joseph tale as 'the story of a boy whose dreams come true', and, as the song concludes, 'he could be you'.

And for 50 all-singing, all-dancing students of Glenealy school, the dream did come true.

On stage for the entire musical, they found themselves at the heart of a dazzlingly staged, high-energy, dream machine.

First staged in 1968, Joseph kicked off Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rice's smash-hit musicals. But for many years the children's choir was dropped from the show.

The reinstatement of the choir for this production - first performed in London in 1991 - has returned it to its roots as a children's musical, bringing freshness and spontaneity to a production that runs like a well-oiled engine.

The musical is based on the well-known Old Testament story of sibling jealousy in which an ejected brother, through his ability to interpret dreams, rises to become second only to the Pharaoh.

Its essential strength is in allowing a strong, classic narrative to sweep the show along. The familiarity of this story to most audiences also means that they can sit back and enjoy the irreverent romp through a musical pastiche, with numbers performed in a range of styles: barn dancing, 1970s disco, Elvis hip waggling and French accordion nostalgia.

David Dixon was a diminutive Joseph who, through the strength of voice and charisma, was neither dwarfed by the towering sets, nor eclipsed by the gold that swamped the stage and drew the eye.

His Joseph kept contact with the audience by engaging it over a character who could have been a turn-off: the favoured son who rubs this advantage in his brothers' faces and the powerful administrator who has his siblings grovelling for food.

Even more diminutive, Linzi Hately, as the narrator, packed an equally attention-drawing vocal punch which, combined with her energy and charm, gave the show another source of driving energy.

The rest of the cast - Jacob (played by Lloyd Scott), a marvellously pelvic Pharaoh (Lez Dwight) - and the brothers and their wives all performed with commitment, energy and sense of real enjoyment.

Designed by Mark Thompson, the show was a visual treat: the coat itself, the sheep and digitally controlled camels and cobras that came out on a revolving stage, the great Pharaonic face with dancing eyes and the golden masks and chariot.

For some scenes though, notably the raucous barn dance, the restricted stage kept the energy a little too boxed up.

Musical direction by Robert Purvis was excellent, clean and clear and able to make well-known songs sound fresh again.

This show will be a total winner for young audiences. Take the children and expect them to come out wanting a career on stage.

But it is also a great escape for the big people, a night of iridescent colour, irrepressible energy, musical magic and joyful dancing.