Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Teesdale Operatic Society

AT the end, they might not have physically raised the roof on the Witham Hall in Barnard Castle because that would be impossible, but they certainly rocked da house until it was ready to fall.

The lighting columns on either side of the stage wobbled worryingly like trees in the path of Storm Arwen, and the seating gantry shook and swayed as people and cast alike rocked and rolled along to the finale.

Others stood to applaud, some whooped their appreciation, of the remarkable effort and unqualified success of the Teesdale Operatic Society’s first offering.

The society has been formed by director Dawn Trevor and two friends, cast members Adele Tyler and Joanne Wall, to add music to the dale’s thriving thespian scene.

To choose Joseph as their first production was inspired. Whatever you think of Andrew Lloyd Webber, this musical is crammed with hook after hook after hook – I hadn’t really considered Joseph since I was in the chorus many decades ago at school and yet all the melodies came flooding back – and Tim Rice’s lyrics are genuinely funny: “All those things you saw in your pyjamas are a long range forecast for your farmers.”

The show is anchored around the narrator, played by Karen Davison. A fabulous voice with crystal clear enunciation, she took the audience by the hand as she strode from scene to scene like a friendly school ma’am. I loved her slightly diffident dancing which separated her perfectly from the rest of the cast. She knew, with a knowing nod to the audience, that it was ridiculous to be doing the mashed potato in contrast to the whole of Egypt behind her who were jiving away with unrestrained gusto.

Joseph himself was played by Scott Edwards, head of drama at Barnard Castle School. Even though the musical is really a comedy, he produced a powerful solo full of emotion when Joseph is broken in the prison cell.

And the pharoah, played by Peter Rhodes, was fabulous, with a magnificent Elvis sneer, uh-huh-hur.

But to single out individuals is wrong. The whole cast (and backstage crew) worked so well together on a crammed, tiny stage – how 30 people plus an illuminated camel and a disembowelled goat could cavort around without colliding is a mystery – going full tilt from song to song without pausing for breath.

Every single one of these amateurs would have graced a professional stage, plus great lighting, magnificent sound and a note-perfect band produced a hugely memorable show.

And it looked just as much fun to perform as it was to watch – infectious fun, which led to the amazing ovation at the end.

The society’s second performance is to be Roald Dahl’s Matilda at the Witham in April.