“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat” is among the best on Delhi stage.
The Cathedral Church of Redemption on Church Road in New Delhi is one of the most beautiful churches in India and it is amazing how Joy Micheal and her assistant director Pradeep Daniel turned the chancel area of the church into a two-level stage for presenting the world famous musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat” written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with Tim Rice’s lyrics. As the audience settles down, the piano strikes a note, Mother Mary’s portrait in the background is lit with a beautiful blue spot and another spotlight is fixed on Christ’s statue upstage. Simultaneously, the screen comes alive with rays of light from different directions to convey, as if it were, Christ’s message of peace.
The lighting design is beautifully created by R.K. Dhingra. As the rays fade out the choir walks in singing. In fact, there are two choirs – the main choir consisting of men, women and children, and the other male choir consisting of all characters on the stage.
The story of the musical is taken from The Bible, Genesis, chapter 37; Jacob and his 12 sons in the land of Canaan. Joseph was his father’s favourite son and he made him a coat of many colours which angered his brothers. They sell him to some Ishmaelite merchants passing through the city. The merchants took him to Egypt and sold him to Potipher, an officer of Pharoah and the captain of the guard. Joseph was hard working and was soon promoted as the overseer in Potipher’s house. Joseph was handsome and Potipher’s wife fell for him. When Potipher came to know of it, he had put Joseph in jail.
Two years later, Pharoah had a dream which no one could explain. Pharoah heard of Joseph who was in jail and summoned him who explained God was showing Pharoah that there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Hearing the explanation, Pharoah made Joseph the ruler of Egypt.
There was famine and Jacob’s sons came to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph was very upset at his family’s condition. But the brothers did not recognise him. Joseph ordered they be given as much grain as they wanted. Finally, when he revealed who he was, the family is united with the long lost son and the beautiful musical ends with the great finale, “Any Dream Will Do”.
Rice has a beautiful way of telling the story and uses a narrator to carry it forward. Joy Michael, the director, has discovered a wonderful narrator in Benita Paul. Benita has no formal training in music and this is the first time that she has ever been on the stage.
Another excellent performance comes from Ashish Chakravarty who uses his voice and body beautifully in Joseph’s role. The main choir of 30 singers including school children who were trained by Fiona Hedger Gourlay and Brother’s choir trained by Paul Raja sing with immense confidence. The music directed by Paul Raja and the pianist Ludia Joan Asirvatham from Delhi School of Music shares the honours with the director for making it the best musical we have seen so far on Delhi stage.ROMESH CHANDER