Heart-stopping performance in musical Joseph at Sheffield Lyceum by Union J's Jaymi Hensley

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 4:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 3:56 pm
Jaymi Hensley stars in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

The first was in London in ‘91 with Jason Donovan - that one was unforgettable (I was 13, I loved Neighbours, Jason flew! In a loincloth!)

I was glued to the TV search show Any Dream Will Do, went to London again in 2007 to see Lee Mead take up his prize, and I’ve seen numerous, varyingly memorable, touring shows before and since.

Never have I heard Joseph sung in the set piece numbers with such emotional depth, such visceral anguish, as by Jaymi Hensley (from boyband Union J), appearing at the Lyceum in Sheffield until Saturday (November 9).

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Close Every Door has always been a show-stopper; Jaymi’s searing vocals elevate it to heart-stopper.

When he sings Any Dream Will Do, directly to his aged father, reunited after years of Jacob believing him dead, it’s heartbreaking; pure, sorrowful pathos.

“I wore my coat,” he tells him beseechingly. “The coat you gave me. I never, ever forgot you.” I was crying. Even Jacob was crying!

What’s the secret to this beloved 50-year-old show, that it keeps audiences coming back, holding it in such affection?

There were families around us in the stalls introducing the musical to their little children, wanting them to fall in love with it too.

A mother and grown-up son in the seats next to us had seen it three times together before.

A lady in the loos was reminiscing upon seeing it years ago with Phillip Schofield as the lead.

“I remember when I was your age singing the songs in school,” a lady with her daughter in the row behind told my daughter during the interval.

Tim Rice’s wonderfully witty lyrics are one of the secrets, of course. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s infectious timeless score another. A dreamily good story plays a big part, and camp, pantomime fun.

Perhaps the ultimate secret is it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, whether it’s your fifth or your first. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a constant; a half-century old kaleidoscope of colour and warmth, nostalgia and joy, that whirls around you and envelops you as you sing along with happiness.

The two-hour running time isn’t long enough. May I return to the beginning?