Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story is based on the "coat of many colours" story of Joseph from the Bible's Book of Genesis. This was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly; their first, The Likes of Us, written in 1965, was not performed until 2005.
|Joseph and the Amazing|
1991 Revivals Logo
|Music||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Basis||The story of Joseph in Genesis|
|Productions||1972 Edinburgh International Festival |
1973 West End
1974 UK full-length production
1991 West End revival
1993 Broadway revival
2003 West End revival
2007 West End revival
2019 West End revival
The show has only a few lines of spoken dialogue; it is almost entirely sung-through. Its family-friendly story, familiar themes and catchy music have resulted in numerous stagings. According to the owner of the copyright, the Really Useful Group, by 2008 more than 20,000 schools and amateur theatre groups had staged productions.
Joseph was first presented as a 15-minute "pop cantata" at Colet Court School in London in 1968, and was published by Novello and recorded in an expanded form by Decca Records in 1969. After the success of the next Lloyd Webber and Rice piece, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph received amateur stage productions in the US beginning in 1970, and the first American release of the album was in 1971. The musical had its professional premiere, as a 35-minute musical, at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1972. While still undergoing various modifications and expansions, the musical was produced in the West End in 1973. In 1974, its full modern format was performed at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and was also recorded that year. The musical was mounted on Broadway in 1982. Several major revivals, national tours, and a 1999 direct-to-video film starring Donny Osmond followed.
The story is based on the Biblical story of Joseph, found in the Book of Genesis. It is set in a frame in which a narrator is telling a story (sometimes to children, encouraging them to dream). She then tells the story of Joseph, another dreamer ("Prologue," "Any Dream Will Do"). In the beginning of the main story Jacob and his 12 sons are introduced ("Jacob and Sons"). Joseph's brothers are jealous of him for his coat of many colours, a symbol of their father's preference for him ("Joseph's Coat"). It is clear from Joseph's dreams that he is destined to rule over them ("Joseph's Dreams"). To get rid of him and prevent the dreams from coming true, they attempt fratricide, but then they sell Joseph as a slave to some passing Ishmaelites ("Poor, Poor Joseph"), who take him to Egypt.
Back home, his brothers, led by Reuben and accompanied by their wives, break the news to Jacob that Joseph has been killed. They show his tattered coat smeared with his blood – really goat blood – as proof that what they say is true ("One More Angel in Heaven"). After the bereft Jacob leaves, the brothers and their wives happily celebrate the loss of Joseph.
In Egypt, Joseph is the slave of Egyptian tycoon Potiphar. He rises through the ranks of slaves and servants until he is running Potiphar's house. When Mrs. Potiphar makes advances, Joseph spurns her. She removes his shirt, feels his chest and back, squeezes his rear and blows him kisses. Potiphar overhears, barges in, sees the two together – and jumps to conclusions ("Potiphar"). Outraged, he throws Joseph in jail. Depressed, Joseph laments the situation ("Close Every Door") – but his spirits rise when he helps two prisoners put in his cell. Both are former servants of the Pharaoh and both have had bizarre dreams. Joseph interprets them. One cellmate, the Baker, will be executed, but the other, the Butler, will be returned to service. Upon hearing this, the rest of the prisoners surround Joseph and encourage him to go after his dreams ("Go, Go, Go Joseph").
The Narrator tells of impending changes in Joseph's fortunes ("A Pharaoh Story") because the Pharaoh is having dreams that no one can interpret. Now freed, the Butler tells Pharaoh (acted in the style of Elvis Presley) of Joseph and his dream-interpretation skills ("Poor, Poor Pharaoh"). Pharaoh orders Joseph to be brought in and the king tells him his dream involving seven fat cows, seven skinny cows, seven healthy ears of corn, and seven dead ears of corn ("Song of the King").
Joseph interprets the dream as seven plentiful years of crops followed by seven years of famine ("Pharaoh's Dreams Explained"). An astonished Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of carrying out the preparations needed to endure the impending famine, and Joseph becomes the most powerful man in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself ("Stone the Crows").
Back home, the famine has caught up with Joseph's brothers, who, led by Simeon, express regret at selling him and deceiving their father ("Those Canaan Days"). They hear that Egypt still has food and decide to go there to beg for mercy and to be fed ("The Brothers Come to Egypt"), not realising that they will be dealing with Joseph ("Grovel, Grovel"). Joseph gives them sacks of food, but plants a golden cup in the sack of his youngest brother, Benjamin. When the brothers try to leave, Joseph stops them, asking about the "stolen cup". Each brother empties his sack, and it is revealed that Benjamin has the cup. Joseph then accuses Benjamin of robbery ("Who's the Thief?"). The other brothers, led by Judah, beg for mercy for Benjamin, imploring that Joseph take them prisoner and set Benjamin free ("Benjamin Calypso").
Seeing their selflessness and penitence, Joseph reveals himself ("Joseph All the Time") and sends for his father. The two are reunited ("Jacob in Egypt") for a happy conclusion and Joseph dons his coloured coat once more ("Any Dream Will Do (Reprise)/Give Me My Coloured Coat").
In some productions, the finale is followed by a rock/disco medley of most of the musical's major numbers ("Joseph Megamix").
Development and early vocal performances, publication, and recordings 1968–1971Edit
The 17-year-old budding musical-theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was contacted by the 20-year-old aspiring pop-song writer Tim Rice in 1965, and they created their first musical, The Likes of Us. They produced a demo tape of that work in 1966, but the project failed to gain a backer.
In the summer of 1967, Alan Doggett, a family friend of the Lloyd Webbers who had assisted on The Likes of Us and who was the music teacher at the Colet Court school in London, commissioned Lloyd Webber and Rice to write a piece for the school's choir. Doggett requested a "pop cantata" along the lines of Herbert Chappell's The Daniel Jazz (1963) and Michael Hurd's Jonah-Man Jazz (1966), both of which had been published by Novello and were based on the Old Testament. The request for the new piece came with a 100-guinea advance from Novello. This resulted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph, in which Lloyd Webber and Rice humorously pastiched a number of pop-music styles.
The piece was first presented as a 15-minute pop cantata at Colet Court School in London on 1 March 1968. Lloyd Webber's composer father William arranged for a second performance at his church, Westminster Central Hall, with a revised and expanded 20-minute format; the boys of Colet Court and members of the band Mixed Bag sang at this performance in May 1968. One of the children's parents in that audience was Derek Jewell, a Sunday Times music critic; he reviewed the piece in the newspaper, calling it a new pop oratorio and praising its innovation and exuberance. By its third performance, at St Paul's Cathedral in November 1968, the musical had been expanded to 35 minutes.
Novello published the lyrics and sheet music of the 20-minute version at the beginning of 1969, as the third of their Old Testament pop cantatas. Decca Records, which had already recorded the St Paul's Cathedral version of the musical in the summer of 1968, released the recording in 1969, credited to the Joseph Consortium, following the Novello publication. David Daltrey, front man of British psychedelic band Tales of Justine, played the role of Joseph and lead guitar, and Tim Rice was Pharaoh. Other vocalists included members of the Mixed Bag group, such as Terry Saunders and Malcolm Parry, and the choir of Colet Court School. Daltrey, although not part of the Mixed Bag, was managed by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber at the time, and EMI colleague Martin Wilcox suggested to Rice that they use the Mixed Bag as a backing group on the album.
A 32-minute recording of the musical with 19 tracks was issued in the US on Scepter Records in 1971.[better source needed] It was a reissue of the 1969 Decca UK album, capitalising on the success of 1970's Jesus Christ Superstar in the US. It featured Daltrey as Joseph, Rice as Pharaoh, William S. Lloyd Webber on the Hammond organ, Alan Doggett conducting, and the Colet Court choir as the chorus.
Early stage performancesEdit
First American amateur productions 1970–1973Edit
Lloyd Webber and Rice used the popularity of their subsequent musical, the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, to promote Joseph, which was advertised in America as a "follow-up" to Superstar. The rock opera's title song "Superstar" had been an international hit single released in late 1969, and "I Don't Know How To Love Him", another hit from Jesus Christ Superstar, was released 1 May 1970. The first American production of Joseph was an amateur stage production in May 1970, at Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, Queens, New York City. Following this, other schools and colleges sought to produce the piece.
Young Vic UK production and move to West End and Leicester 1972–1974Edit
In late August and September 1972, Joseph was presented at the Edinburgh International Festival by the Young Vic Theatre Company, directed by Frank Dunlop. It starred Gary Bond in the title role, Peter Reeves as the narrator, and Gordon Waller as Pharaoh; Alan Doggett was the music director. In October the production played at London's Young Vic Theatre, and in November at the Roundhouse. The production was part of a double bill called Bible One: Two Looks at the Book of Genesis. Part I was Dunlop's reworking of the first six of the medieval Wakefield Mystery Plays, with music by Alan Doggett. Part II was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The Young Vic Joseph was recorded for an LP released on the RSO label in 1972. This production of Joseph, still a 35-minute musical, was also broadcast in the UK by Granada Television in 1972.
In February 1973, theatre producer Michael White and impresario Robert Stigwood mounted a further expanded version of the Young Vic production at the Albery Theatre in the West End, where it ran for 243 performances. The mystery plays that had preceded the original Young Vic productions were dropped, and instead the musical was preceded by a piece called Jacob's Journey, with music and lyrics by Lloyd Webber and Rice and a book by television comedy writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Jacob's Journey, which contained a great deal of spoken dialogue, was eventually phased out in favour of a sung-through score that became part of Joseph. The first production of the show in its modern, final form was at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, which presented the musical several times from 1974 through 1978.
A recording of the full musical was released on the MCA label in 1974, again featuring Bond, Reeves and Waller. This is the earliest recording of Joseph to eventually be issued on CD. Waller also appeared on another recording in 1979, featuring Rice as the Narrator and Paul Jones as Joseph, on the Music For Pleasure label.
UK productions 1975–1979Edit
In 1975 Miranda Enterprises in association with Leicester Theatre Company presented Joseph at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. It was directed by Paul Tomlinson and choreographed by David Thornton. This production starred Patrick Ryecart as Joseph and David Sadgrove as Pharaoh.
Ken Hill directed a large-scale production of Joseph at the Westminster Theatre, London, which ran from November 1978 to February 1979, and again from November 1979 to February 1980. This production starred Paul Jones as Joseph, John Golder as the Narrator, and Leonard Whiting as Pharaoh. A recording of this production with additional narration spoken by children was broadcast on BBC radio, produced by Richard Wilcox.
Professional US productions, including Broadway, 1974–1984Edit
In 1974, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was performed at the Playhouse in the Park in Philadelphia. The musical ran at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York in 1976 and in 1977 as "holiday fare". In the 1976 production, which opened on 30 December, direction was by John Dunlop, with a cast that featured Cleavon Little as the Narrator and David-James Carroll as Joseph. In the 1977 production, running in December through 1 January 1978, staging was by Graciela Daniele, with Carroll as Joseph, Alan Weeks as the Narrator and William Parry as Pharaoh/Elvis.
Joseph received an Off-Broadway production at the Entermedia Theatre, running from 18 November 1981 through 24 January 1982. Directed by Tony Tanner, the cast starred Bill Hutton as Joseph, Laurie Beechman as the Narrator, and Tom Carder as Pharaoh.
The production transferred to Broadway at the Royale Theatre on 27 January 1982 and ran through 4 September 1983, with 747 performances. This production was recorded on the Chrysalis label, and is the first to feature the Prologue (dubbed on the Chrysalis release "You are what you feel"). The producers were Gail Berman and Susan Rose, who were the youngest producers on Broadway. The show received several Tony Award nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Allen Fawcett replaced Hutton as Joseph in June 1982. David Cassidy took over the role of Joseph in March 1983 and also performed in the touring cast in 1983–1984.
With Jason Donovan in the lead, the expanded show was restaged in 1991 at the London Palladium with Steven Pimlott as director and Anthony Van Laast as choreographer, winning the 1992 Laurence Olivier Award for set design. The cast album of this production was the #1 UK album for two weeks in September 1991, and the single "Any Dream Will Do" from it was also the #1 UK single for two weeks in June–July 1991. When Donovan left, former children's TV presenter Phillip Schofield portrayed Joseph.
The musical opened in Toronto at the Elgin Theatre in July 1992, with Donny Osmond as Joseph and Janet Metz as the Narrator. Afterwards, Osmond toured North America in the role. A major Australian production, based on the 1991 UK version, opened on 31 December 1992 at the State Theatre in Melbourne. It featured Indecent Obsession lead singer David Dixon as Joseph and Tina Arena as the Narrator. The musical then played seasons in Brisbane and Sydney through 1993.
The show was revived in the United States in 1993, playing in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre for 18 weeks, and in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Theatre for an 8-week run, before moving to Broadway, where it played for 231 performances at the Minskoff Theatre from 10 November 1993 to 29 May 1994. The cast featured Michael Damian (Joseph), Kelli Rabke (Narrator), Clifford David (Jacob), and Robert Torti (Pharaoh).
A production starring Stephen Gately, "with cartoon cut-out sets and props and naff panto choreography", previewed in Oxford in December 2002, before moving to Liverpool over Christmas 2002. This production reached the West End at the New London Theatre in March 2003.
A 2007 revival of the London Palladium production at the Adelphi Theatre starred a Joseph cast with the winner of BBC One's Any Dream Will Do, presided over by Lloyd Webber. This was the second reality talent show to search for a West End star, capitalising on the success of the 2006 BBC–Lloyd Webber series, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. Viewers voted to for Lee Mead as Joseph. Mead had given up his ensemble role in The Phantom of the Opera, where he also understudied Raoul. The new Joseph production, which began on 6 July 2007, used Steven Pimlott's (who had died since staging the Palladium production) original direction, with Preeya Kalidas as the Narrator.
Tickets for the show's originally-planned six-month run sold out in three weeks, and the producers extended the show's run – and Mead's contract – until 7 June 2008. Before opening night, the producers received £10 million in advance ticket sales. In his review for Variety, David Benedict wrote, "Mead delivers. ... For as long as Mead chooses to continue in it, Joseph is, commercially speaking, the safest of bets." Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group donated all receipts from two special performances to the BBC's Children in Need charity appeal. Additionally, the money normally given to the cast for first-night gifts in July 2007 went instead to Children in Need. In January 2009 Mead left the show and was replaced by Gareth Gates. The production closed in May 2009.
The long-running UK touring production was re-cast in 2010 with Keith Jack taking on Joseph in July 2010 opposite Jennifer Potts as narrator. In May 2013 Ian "H" Watkins replaced Jack, reprising the role he had played in London and on tour. The 2014–15 leg of the tour saw X Factor contestant Lloyd Daniels take on the title role opposite Eastender's Matt Lapinskas as Pharaoh. Danielle Hope played Narrator in 2014. Amelia Lily, another X factor alumna, later played the Narrator.
The 2016 UK touring production starred Joe McElderry as Joseph and Lucy Kay as the Narrator. The tour started again in February 2019 with Jaymi Hensley taking the lead role, with Trina Hill portraying the Narrator.
In November 2018 it was announced that Joseph would return to the London Palladium for a limited run over the summer in 2019 to celebrate the show's 50th Anniversary. Sheridan Smith stars as the Narrator and Jason Donovan plays The Pharaoh, with the title role of Joseph being played by drama school graduate Jac Yarrow. The production runs from 27 June 2019 (previews), opening 11 July, to 8 September.
- Narrator: A character not of the time or place of the action. The Narrator tells the story through word and song, guiding the audience gently through the story of Joseph and his brothers, usually gives meaning to the story with his/her words. In early productions this character was usually played by a man; later productions have featured a woman in the role.
- Jacob: The father of twelve sons, his favourite being Joseph. At times he may appear unfair and shallow, but he is, more importantly, the prophet who recognises the future and the calling of Joseph, thus saving the House of Israel. Usually doubles as Potiphar.
- Joseph: Eleventh son of Jacob. Obviously his father's favourite, Joseph early on shows a talent for interpreting dreams and telling the future. This gets him into trouble with his brothers when he predicts his future will include ruling over the other eleven. However, it saves his life when in Egypt he correctly interprets Pharaoh's dreams. In the end he has risen to a great position of power, but he still forgives his brothers and brings his family to Egypt to partake of the bounty he has accumulated there.
- Ishmaelites: Men of the desert, they buy Joseph as a slave, take him to Egypt, and sell him to Potiphar.
- Potiphar: A powerful and rich Egyptian, Potiphar purchases Joseph and puts him to work in his household, where he soon realises that Joseph is honest, hard-working, and a great addition to his pool of help. When he grows suspicious of Mrs. Potiphar and Joseph, however, he grows angry and has Joseph thrown into prison. Usually played by the actor playing Jacob.
- Mrs. Potiphar: Beautiful and scheming, Mrs. Potiphar tries to seduce Joseph, but is unsuccessful. However, she does manage to rip off much of his clothing just as her husband comes into the room, thus condemning him to prison. Also plays one of the wives.
- Baker: One of Pharaoh's servants, the Baker is in prison with Joseph who correctly interprets his dreams and predicts that he will be put to death. Played by one of the brothers.
- Butler: Another of Pharaoh's servants, the Butler is also in prison with Joseph who also correctly interprets his dreams, this time that he will be released and taken back into Pharaoh's household. It is the Butler who tells Pharaoh about Joseph and his uncanny ability with dreams. Played by one of the brothers.
- Pharaoh: The most powerful man in Egypt, Pharaoh is considered a god on earth. When Joseph interprets his dreams, he promotes him to one of the highest positions in his government. In most productions, Pharaoh is portrayed as an Elvis Presley-style figure. Sometimes played by one of the brothers.
- Joseph's Eleven Brothers: Although acting usually as a group, they each have their own different personalities, talents, and flaws. As a group they sell Joseph into slavery, but as individuals they deal with the following years and how they can make amends. They sing and dance their way through many situations and places. The brothers also double as Egyptians and servants of Potiphar.
- Reuben: Eldest son of Jacob. Takes the lead on "One More Angel in Heaven"
- Simeon: Second son of Jacob. Takes the lead on "Those Canaan Days"
- Levi: Third son of Jacob.
- Judah: Fourth son of Jacob. Takes the lead on "Benjamin Calypso".
- Dan: Fifth son of Jacob.
- Naphtali: Sixth son of Jacob.
- Gad: Seventh son of Jacob.
- Asher: Eighth son of Jacob.
- Issachar: Ninth son of Jacob.
- Zebulun: Tenth son of Jacob.
- Benjamin: Twelfth son of Jacob. Joseph accuses him of stealing the golden cup.
- The Wives: The wives of Jacob. The actresses playing the wives also double as Egyptians and servants of Potiphar.
- Adult chorus
- Children's chorus
Lloyd Webber used a variety of musical styles, including parodies of French ballads ("Those Canaan Days"), Elvis-inspired rock and roll ("Song of the King"), western music ("One More Angel In Heaven"), 1920s Charleston ("Potiphar"), Calypso ("Benjamin Calypso"), jazz ("Joseph's Dreams"), and 1970s go-go ("Go, Go, Go Joseph").
"Prologue" was first included in the 1982 Broadway production; the use of "Any Dream Will Do" at the start of the show (and the renaming of the closing version as per the above list) dates from the 1991 revival. The UK touring production circa 1983-1987 (produced by Bill Kenwright), included an additional song "I Don't Think I'm Wanted Back At Home", which was originally part of Jacob's Journey. Sung by the title character, the brothers jokingly push Joseph out of the family home, throwing a suitcase, then a cane and top hat at him, leaving Joseph to tap-dance through the number. The tune has been recycled into numbers in By Jeeves and The Likes of Us.
Awards and nominationsEdit
Original Broadway productionEdit
|1982||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Tim Rice||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||Bill Hutton||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Laurie Beechman||Nominated|
|Best Choreography||Tony Tanner||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Laurie Beechman||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Tony Tanner||Nominated|
1991 London revivalEdit
|1992||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Musical Revival||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Jason Donovan||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Linzi Hateley||Nominated|
|Best Director of a Musical||Steven Pimlott||Nominated|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Anthony Van Laast||Nominated|
|Best Set Designer||Mark Thompson||Won|
2003 London revivalEdit
|2004||Laurence Olivier Award||Best Musical Revival||Nominated|
In 1999, a direct-to-video film adaptation of the same title starring Donny Osmond was released, directed by David Mallet and based on Steven Pimlott's 1991 London Palladium production. Osmond had toured North America in the role after opening the Toronto revival in 1992. In the film, Maria Friedman appears as the Narrator, Richard Attenborough as Jacob, Ian McNeice as Potiphar, Joan Collins as Mrs. Potiphar and Robert Torti as Pharaoh.
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- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Internet Broadway Database
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Internet Movie Database
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Official Site
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group website
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Tim Rice's Official Site (links on left for production history)
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Plot summary and character descriptions on StageAgent.com
- Any Dream Will Do! – BBC show website
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