Allie Ford's Third Review
Joseph - The Mayflower, Southampton, 25th Nov. 2000, 8pm.
As usual, when we arrived at the theatre the audience was already charged up for an excellent show. The mood in the theatre was like that before a party.
As the lights dropped and the orchestra began to play, silence descended. We sat through the overture, then Vivienne opened the show with a stunning rendition of the prologue.
As the curtain rose we got our first view of the newest cast members, all of whom proceeded to give incredible performances.
Eaton's voice sounded slightly weak to begin with, but soon it echoed round the auditorium. His singing style is very different from Arvid's clipped, operatic tones, but amazing nonetheless.
The show sped by with the usual great performances from Jacob, his wives and sons. At 'Potiphar' we got to see Sarah-J Gough in the role of Mrs. Potiphar - and she plays it *very* seductively!
As Joseph was arrested and thrown into jail, his eyes pleaded with Potiphar, who just walked away. Eaton accurately portrayed the dejection, despair and desperation of Joseph. As he sang 'Close Every Door' his voice really came into its own. Though he often sings softly, his voice can be really strong when it needs to be, and in this song we saw the whole range from whispered tones, almost cracking with emotion at the beginning of the song to shouted defiance and back again. Many members of the audience seemed close to tears as the song ended.
In 'Go Go Go Joseph' Dan Greavey did an excellent job as the butler, to complement Russel Hicken's baker. Then it was time for the interval...
The second half continued in the same style - spectacularly! Vivienne's fantastic version of 'Pharaoh Story' led us into the Song of the King (Trevor was great as Pharaoh, as usual!) and on through the rest of the show. When we reached 'Grovel Grovel' everyone waited with baited breath to see how the transformed Joseph would appear - and no one was disappointed! With his hair slicked back and a different costume Eaton certainly looked the part of a prince (though the usual mask was missing this time).
Again, the show progressed until we reached the riot of colour and emotion that was 'Benjamin Calypso' - the tension was palpable, and everyone held their breath as Joseph reached toward the distraught Benjamin, before snatching his hand away again (albeit a little too soon - a more lingering pause would have been better still). Finally, after much begging and pleading from the brothers, Joseph revealed who he was - resulting in a great reunion, completed moments later by the arrival of Jacob.
Once we reached the end of the story we hit the reprises and mega-mix - and they were fantastic - everyone in the audience seemed to be clapping and singing along, and it was all we could do to stay in our seats until the invitation to join in finally came along... And then there was no holding us back!
We met up with Tanith and Carl in the front centre of the auditorium, and proceeded to have a great time with the aid of 4 sets of multicoloured teeny-boppers! They seemed to amuse most of the audience, and certainly some of the cast!
All too soon the show was over and it was time to make our way out singing 'Go Go Go Joseph' as tunefully as possible...
-All in all the show was fantastic. All the new cast members seem to be well into their roles, and everyone had a great time.
Eaton's Jo is very like the one played by Tim Driesen not so long ago - naive and immature to begin with, but strong and in control by the end.
For me there are four defining moments where it is possible to decide how good a 'Joseph' is - and Eaton passed all of them, 3 with flying colours:
1. The opening scene - as Jo turns around to see us for the first time: Eaton looked very happy, totally enjoying the moment, so we couldn't help but feel the same.
2. The arrest/Close Every Door - As I said earlier, Eaton's acting was spot on, and his voice was stunningly well matched to the song.
3. The 'jail' scene in 'Pharaoh Story' - As Eaton sat on the stairs, he looked totally broken, as if he really did think he was going to be in jail for the rest of his life.
4. The 'transformation'/Grovel Grovel - this was the only bit I thought needed any improving. Eaton totally looks the part of the prince, but when it comes to shouting at the brothers, and distrusting them, he needs to be more angry! I suspect this will come with time anyway...
I can't wait to see the show again, to see how everything progresses... And I wish all the cast the best of luck for the rest of the shows this year...
This is your intrepid reviewer signing off...