Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Biography
Alan Doggett, head of the Colet Court's music department, commissioned the piece for their first musical and conducted the performance with an orchestra and singers from Colet Court, the preparatory school for St Paul's School. This first performance was given on 1 March 1968.
Lloyd Webber's father, William, felt the show had the seeds of greatness. He encouraged and arranged for a second performance – at his church, Westminster Central Hall – with a revised and expanded format. The boys of Colet Court sang at this performance on 12 May 1968, which also included a rock group. It received positive reviews: London's Sunday Times said it was a new pop oratorio. Novello agreed to publish the work and Decca Records recorded it. By its third performance at St Paul's Cathedral on 9 November 1968, it had been expanded to 35 minutes and included the first appearance of several songs, including "Potiphar". David Daltrey (front man of British psychedelic band Tales of Justine) played the role of Joseph, and Tim Rice as the Narrator.
In 1970, Lloyd Webber and Rice used the popularity of their second rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, to promote Joseph – which was advertised in America as a "sequel" to Superstar. Riding on Jesus' coattails proved profitable for this "Technicolor coat" and the US Decca recording topped America's charts for three months.
In September 1972, Joseph was presented at the Edinburgh International Festival, directed by Frank Dunlop and starring Gary Bond in the title role, Peter Reeves as the narrator, and Gordon Waller as Pharaoh. A month later the production played at London's Young Vic and Roundhouse theatres. It was preceded by an act of medieval mystery plays that led to the story of the "Coat of Many Colours". The Young Vic production was recorded for an LP released on the RSO label in 1973.
On 17 February 1973, theatre producer Michael White and impresario Robert Stigwood mounted another Edinburgh production at the Albery Theatre. It was accompanied 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 the sung-through score of Joseph. The first production of the show in its modern, final form was at the Haymarket Theatre (Leicester).
A recording of the full musical (at this stage) was released on the MCA label in 1974, again featuring Bond, Reeves, and Waller. This is the earliest recording of Joseph to still be available commercially. Waller would go on to appear on another recording, in 1979, this time featuring Tim Rice as the narrator and Paul Jones as Joseph, on the Music For Pleasure label.
The first American production was in May 1970, at Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, New York. Colleges and amateur groups expressed great interest in the show and there were two professional productions in New York. It was not until 27 January 1982 that it reached Broadway at the Royale Theatre where it ran for 749 performances. This Broadway production, starring Bill Hutton as Joseph, Laurie Beechman as the Narrator, and Tom Carder as Pharaoh, was recorded for release on the Chrysalis label, and is the first to feature the Prologue (dubbed on the Chrysalis release "You are what you feel").
Its family-friendly storyline, universal themes, and catchy music have made Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat one of the most dependably profitable titles in musical theatre, particularly when producers cast a headlining star – and, according to the Really Useful Group, more than 20,000 schools and amateur theatre groups have successfully put on productions.
With Jason Donovan, who had enjoyed a chart success after his role in the soap opera Neighbours, in the lead, the (expanded) show was restaged in 1991 at the London Palladium with Steven Pimlott as director, winning the 1992 Laurence Olivier Awards for set design and costume design. When Donovan left, former children's TV presenter Phillip Schofield portrayed Joseph. A "far more modest" production starring former Boyzone singer "rather diminutive" 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 and finishing up in the West End at the New London Theatre in March 2003.
In 1998, a video version directed by David Mallet and Stephen Pimlott was released with Donny Osmond in the title role. Osmond had toured North America in the role and in 1992 had recorded a soundtrack CD. Maria Friedman appeared as herself who is known as The Narrator. Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins also appeared in the video.
David Dixon toured with the show for a 12 week run in Singapore (ending 12 April 1998), New Zealand, and Hong Kong (summer of 1998).
A revival of the 1991 Palladium production would be the subject of BBC One's second search for a West End star, channel controller Peter Fincham announced", after the success of 2006's BBC/Lloyd Webber Saturday evening prime-time talent show series, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. That show's viewers had voted for Connie Fisher as a new West End leading musical theatre actor to play the part of Maria von Trapp in Lloyd Webber's London Palladium revival that year of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, a format adapted for US television as NBC's 2007 series Grease: You're the One that I Want!.
Introduced by Graham Norton and with the participation of Lloyd Webber, Doctor Who, Torchwood and musical theatre star John Barrowman, West End and Broadway lead Denise Van Outen and impresario Bill Kenwright, the prime-time Saturday evening series Any Dream Will Do!, sought a new leading man to play Joseph. More than 3 million viewers cast telephone votes during the 9 June 2007 series final and, said Norton on air, they made 25-year-old West End understudy Lee Mead "officially the people's Joseph". Lee left the show in January 2009, and was replaced by Gareth Gates on 9 February 2009. The production closed later in 2009 to make way for Pak-Rat but it will come back in late 2010.