Youngsters bring new life to an old favourite

A hushed theatre, a darkened stage, and a lectern lit by a single spotlight. Up steps the young narrator. A clear, sparkling voice, unaccompanied but nerveless: and the opening night of Joseph is under way.

Monday, 4th April 2016, 11:24 am
Updated Monday, 4th April 2016, 11:31 am

Joseph and, of course, the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is an equally amazing 48 years old: the very first Rice and Lloyd Webber collaboration. Done to death? Far from it: the coat has worn well, and this re-invention by Young EODS is great fun. The Eastbourne College theatre is just the right size, and they tackle the irresistible music and brain-tapping lyrics with relish.

That narrator, Charlotte Webb, is herself one of the stand-outs of the evening, not just singing beautifully but, like most of the cast, switching parts effortlessly and in particular flinging herself as a quartet of adoring girls (with Lydia Waters, Zoe Maskell and Heather Tingley) into lovely dance routines around a bemused Joseph.

Great credit also to Heather, who has superbly choreographed the pivotal Pharaoh dance number. You see: it isn’t only actors that they bring through at Young EODS!

The man himself is confidently played by Ben Trainor, with a strong lyrical voice and a good stage presence. Mike Worman is a striking Pharaoh with all the right Junior Elvis moves. Hannah Richards on the night delivered a faultless and utterly unfazed Stone the Crows, even though the previous narrator had evidently left the score open at the wrong page. What a trouper!

And in Olivia Sorrell-Fleet, EODS have an outstanding talent for the future. Olivia has trod the boards before, in Eastbourne and beyond, and this young lady absolutely dances, sings and acts her socks off. Every line, move and gesture is spot on. Remember the name….

At the helm of this eager but fairly inexperienced group, Jane Tingley wisely keeps the direction safe and unfussy. It’s colourfully dressed and cheerfully lit, although the use of recorded tracks as accompaniment makes for a quite relentless tempo, and the young performers do sometimes scramble to pick up cues. It’s a minor quibble in an admirable show.

Of two dozen performers on stage, about half are in the 8-to-11 age group, and this exuberant show is jolly good entertainment and a lovely learning curve. The EODS future is as bright as Joseph’s coat. By Kevin Anderson.

- Meanwhile EODS is about to hold auditions for its summer open-air Shakespearian event on Sunday April 10 at the EODS Centre, 96 Seaside, Eastbourne at midday. This year’s exciting production will be the comedy As You Like It and will take place at The Italian Gardens, Holywell from July 27 -to August 6. For more information or to request an audition form please email Liz Beeching at [email protected]