Standing ovations speak for themselves and nowhere was one more well deserved than at Longridge Towers last week as the junior department wowed their audience.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ was first performed in the Colet Court School in London in 1968 and it was a perfect fit for this bunch of youngsters 46 years later.
As someone who was in a production of the show when I was 11, taking in the performance in Longridge’s Chapel Theatre on Wednesday was like taking a trip down memory lane.
And I couldn’t have asked for a better set of guides. The cast of 7-11 year olds oozed personality and star quality, none more so than Paxton’s Sacha Cunningham in the title role.
Her pure, natural tones were demanded just as much attention as her eye-catching coat of many colours and the way she switched from the vulnerable Joseph of the first half to the assured leader of the second was mightily impressive.
Sacha’s solo ‘Close Every Door’ was a real ‘pindrop’ moments as the whole audience were drawn to her lone figure on stage.
Sasha’s vocal technique was quite astounding for someone of her age and she wasn’t the only one who had me reminding myself that this was a cast that were still a few years off becoming teenagers let alone adults.
The boys taking on the parts of Joseph’s not too devoted brothers were deserved crowd favourites.
From their roll call in the emphatic ‘Jacob & Sons’, Reuben (Archie Brewis), Simeon (Oscar Onley), Levi (Hugh Tyser), Naphtali (Joshua Lowe), Issachar (Myles Lindsay-Brown), Asher (Bob Jeffrey), Dan (Daniel Warner), Zebulon (Ben Evans), Gad (George Nielsen), Benjamin (Archie Pilcher) and Judah (Alexander Fuller-Shapcott), make quite an impression. From some of their unique dance moves to fantastic facial expressions, no-one could excuse the boys of not giving it their all.
‘Those Canaan Days’ and ‘Benjamin Calypso’ were particularly entertaining and ‘Joseph’s Coat’ was as colourful as the garment itself, with some effective use of scarves from the brothers’ wives.
The girls were on stage for a lot of the show’s chorus numbers including ‘The Pharoah’s Song’, which saw Callum O’Reilly revel in the spotlight.
In a jumpsuit straight from Elvis’ Vegas days, Callum was an absolute star. Superb stage presence and the voice to boot, he got plenty of whoops and cheers from the appreciative audience.
The young cast clearly adored every minute of being on stage with act one closer ‘Go,Go Joseph’ their tour de force.
Special mention for that number must go to butler William Lindsay and bakers Steven Rogers, Charnveer Nijjar and William Dakers.
And who could forget the show’s premiere couple Mr and Mrs Potiphar.
Martin Vernon donned a waistcoat and sunglasses combo that would have sent Elton John green with envy and Corinna Templeton had a touch of the Joan Collins as his other half.
A much more down to earth couple, Jacob and his wife were given a more youthful outlook thanks to Murray McGregor and Emily Nicholson.
The young narrators were pitch perfect throughout with helping to make Longridge’s ‘Joseph’ a treat for both the eyes and ears.
Head of junior drama Mrs Maddock and the children’s parents should be immensely proud of their young stars.
A remarkable production in anyone’s book.