SUCH is the abiding popularity of this Dream of a show 46 years after its London debut that Bill Kenwright’s touring production can complete a week in York with two shows on Friday and three on Saturday.
Only Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story – raving on yet again next March – rivals the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber biblical musical for returns to the Grand Opera House.
This decade alone, Lee Mead swished Joseph’s multicoloured garment all around him in 2010; Keith Jack in 2012; Joe McElderry in 2016. Now is the turn of Jaymi Hensley, formerly one of the three Js in the pop-up X Factor boy band Union J, but also trained in musical theatre at the BRIT School, the London maker of stars.
Hensley is not the tallest – he is 5ft 8 – and like Any Dream Will Do’s Keith Jack, he plays Joseph the dreamer more as an innocent abroad, albeit with a twinkle in his eye whenever he takes in the audience’s gaze, rather than with the square-jawed, noble muscularity of Lee Mead.
It works well for Hensley in a show that is never shy of playing an old favourite with a knowing campness, especially among Joseph’s team of 11 brothers. Up pops a model of the Eiffel Tower, for example, when they sing the sad chanson Those Canaan Days, berets, Breton stripes, accordion, exaggerated French accents et al. Look out too for the deep-voiced camel cameo and the blow-up sheep that appear as if from nowhere.
Away from the harmony strictures of a boy band, Hensley sings like a dream, with power, drama, sweetness, range, whatever is demanded, and Any Dream Will Do and especially Close Every Door wholly suit him.
Alexandra Doar’s busy, busy Narrator and Amber Kennedy’s Tina Turner-style Mrs Potiphar are in good form too, while Andrew Geater’s Las Vegas Elvis pastiche for Pharaoh’s Song Of The KIng is a whole hunk of burning love. What’s more, since the 2007 London production, Pharaoh is given a second song, King Of My Heart, to show off another (crooning) side of Elvis’s singing. Thank you very much.
What’s new for 2019, Jaymi Hensley aside? Pop choreographer Gary Lloyd has come on board to pump up the dancing to dynamic effect. Meanwhile, of York interest, the show’s designer is Sean Cavanagh, artistic associate of Riding Lights, whose Friargate Theatre home he designed in 2000. Egypt looks a picture: one more reason to go, go, go to Joseph.
Review copyright of The Press, York