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Sunday, July 9, 2023



(Above: Kyran Taylor as Joseph and his amazing coloured coat)

                                                    All pics by Val Adamson

The show is splendid. Beautiful and disciplined performances, powerful exuberance, fantastic dancing and singing as well as a fine understanding of the humour in the story. (Review by Caroline Smart)

What a very great pleasure it was last night to enjoy the opening in the Playhouse Opera of The Young Performers Project’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a musical created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

With the largest cast to date featuring 167 performers and choir members, this size of ensemble must have been a great challenge for director Jaco van Rensburg assisted by production manager and musical director Des Govender as well as choreographer Simone Mann. The majority of cast members are youngsters, many of them never having set foot on a professional stage the size of the Playhouse Opera. The YPP aims to teach local high school pupils, alongside theatre professionals, to learn theatre craft.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the YPP’s 21st production, a true indication of the ongoing value and strength of this organisation which was first created by the late Themi Venturas who was a major theatre force in this province. I have no doubt Themi’s spirit is beaming with pride!

To quote director Jaco van Rensburg who sums up perfectly the energies required to put on a major musical like this:

“Any good production is like a delicate string of pearls – it relies on so many people’s skill, passion and dedication to bring it to life; from the moms and dads who make sacrifices to ensure that every child makes it to rehearsals on time, every time, to the costumiers who spend endless hours behind their sewing machines, the lighting and sound designers, scenery builders, props makers, stage management team who have their hands full backstage, the volunteer assistants who keep everything organised backstage, to the ticket sellers and marketing team.”

(Left: Georgina Mabbett Kelly as the Narrator) 

The show is splendid. Beautiful and disciplined performances, powerful exuberance, fantastic dancing and singing as well as a fine understanding of the humour in the story.

Leading the show as the Narrator is the beautiful Georgina Mabbett Kelly who impresses with her charm, powerful voice and acting ability. The other professional performer is none other than Aaron McIlroy who plays Pharoah. Rice and Lloyd Webber decided to model the character on Elvis Presley which McIlroy does perfectly in voice and movement. In fact, I hardly recognised him when he came onto the stage.

Playing Joseph is Kyran Taylor from Reddam House Umhlanga. He portrayed Joseph’s sensitivity and his later amusement at concealing his new identity from his brothers who had originally sold him to slavery because they feared the dreams he had. His Close Every Door to Me was beautifully poignant.

Another notable cast member is Grace MciIroy (Aaron’s daughter) from Reddam House Umhlanga who stands out with her dancing skills and her role as Potiphar’s wife.

(Right: Aaron Mcilroy as Pharoah in Elvis style!

The lighting was excellent, the costumes colourful – especially the “technicolor” coat of the title - and a screen on the backdrop gave images that suited the storyline.

One thing that got me wondering in the early part of the show was this: the music is on backtracks but there was no sign of a conductor to control the singers. I discovered later that, after the strenuous rehearsal period where a conductor was used, the singers were on their own when the production moved into the theatre. That put an entirely different aspect on the singing for me and I was hugely impressed at the cast’s retention of the cues and entries. Well done, everyone!!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is full of youthful talent, many of whom I have no doubt that we shall see in professional productions in the not-too-distant future.

Tickets from R150 to R250. Booking is through WebTickets. The show is suitable for ages four and above. It runs for 90 minutes with a 20-minute interval.

Final performances take place from July 9 to 16 (excluding Monday 10) at 14h30 with additional evening performances at 18h30 on July 14 and 15. – Caroline Smart