Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with lyrics by Tim Rice. The story is based on the "coat of many colors" story of Joseph from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Genesis. This was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice opera to be performed publicly. Their first musical, The Likes of Us, written in 1965, was not performed until 2005.

Joseph was first presented as a 15-minute pop cantata at Colet Court School in London in 1968 and was recorded as a concept album in 1969. After the success of the next Lloyd Webber and Rice piece, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph received stage productions beginning in 1970 and expanded recordings in 1971 and 1972. While still undergoing various transformations and expansions, the opera was produced in the West End in 1973, and in its full format was recorded in 1974 and opened on Broadway in 1982. Several major revivals and a 1999 straight-to-video film, starring Donny Osmond, followed.

The show has very little spoken dialogue; it is almost completely sung-through. Its family-friendly storyline, universal themes and catchy music have resulted in numerous productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; according to the Really Useful Group, by 2008 more than 20,000 schools and amateur theatre groups had successfully put on productions.

Production History

Original short opera and early recordings
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was first created for and performed at Colet Court, the preparatory school for St Paul's School in London. Alan Doggett, head of Colet Court's music department, commissioned the 15-minute piece from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as a "pop cantata" for the school choir to sing at their Easter concert. Doggett conducted the performance, which included an orchestra, a rock group called the Mixed Bag, and singers from the school. This first performance was given in March 1968.

Lloyd Webber's composer 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 in May 1968, which also included the Mixed Bag. It received positive reviews: London's Sunday Times said it was a new pop oratorio. By its third performance at St Paul's Cathedral in November 1968, it had been expanded to 35 minutes and included songs such as "Potiphar".

Novello agreed to publish the work, and Decca Records recorded it in 1969 as a concept album. David Daltrey, front man of British psychedelic band Tales of Justine, played the role of Joseph; and Tim Rice was Pharaoh. Other vocalists included Terry Saunders and Malcolm Parry of the Mixed Bag.

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 "follow-up" to Superstar. Riding on Jesus' coattails proved profitable for Joseph, as the U.S. Decca recording of Superstar had been in the top of America's charts for three months. The first American production of Joseph was in May 1970, at Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, New York. Following this, according to Lloyd Webber's Really Useful site, "there followed huge interest from colleges and schools.

A recording of the musical, with 12 tracks, was issued in the U.S. on Scepter Records in 1971. It featured Tim Rice as Pharaoh, Andrew Lloyd Webber on the organ, Alan Doggett conducting, various solo vocalists and instrumentalists, and the Colet Court choir as the chorus.

British stage performances and recordings
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. 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, entitled The Genesis Mediaeval Mystery Plays: The Creation to Jacob (at the Young Vic originally called simply Mediaeval Mystery Plays), 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 production was recorded for an LP released on the RSO label in 1972. This production was also televised in the UK by Granada Television in 1972.

In February 1973, theatre producer Michael White and impresario Robert Stigwood mounted the Young Vic production at the Albery Theatre in the West End, where it ran for 243 performances. The mystery plays which 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.

The new opening piece, Jacob's Journey, which contained a great deal of spoken dialogue, was eventually phased out in favour of a completely sung-through score. The first production of the show in its modern, final form was at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, which presented the musical several times in the mid- to late-1970s.

A recording of the full musical was released on the MCA label in 1974, again featuring Gary Bond, Peter Reeves, and Gordon Waller. This is the earliest recording of Joseph to eventually go to CD. Gordon Waller also appeared on another recording in 1979, featuring Tim Rice as the Narrator and Paul Jones as Joseph, on the Music For Pleasure label.

Professional productions in the U.S.
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, and David-James Carroll played Joseph, Alan Weeks played the Narrator and William Parry played Pharaoh/Elvis.

Joseph opened in an Off-Broadway production at the Entermedia Theatre on 18 November 1981, and ran 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 New York Times review noted that the musical had previously played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and that this 1981 Entermedia Theatre production was the "professional Manhattan premiere".

The musical transferred to Broadway at the Royale Theatre on 27 January 1982 and ran through 4 September 1983, with 749 performances. Directed and choreographed by Tony Tanner, the off-Broadway cast reprised their roles, with Bill Hutton as Joseph, Laurie Beechman as the Narrator, and Tom Carder as Pharaoh. This production 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"). The show received several Tony Award nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

The world premiere in Spanish was presented in Venezuela in 1982, translated by Edwin Munoz and directed by Emilio de Soto, with 151 actors, singers and dancers, accompanied by an orchestra of 35 musicians and a rock group.

With Jason Donovan, who had enjoyed a chart success after his role in the Australian 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 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.

The show was revived on Broadway, playing at the Minskoff Theatre from November 10, 1993 to May 29, 1994 for 231 performances. Directed by Steven Pimlott and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast, the cast featured Michael Damian (Joseph), and Clifford David (Jacob).

In 1999, a video version with Donny Osmond in the title role was released, directed by David Mallet. Osmond had toured North America in the role after opening the Toronto revival in 1992. Maria Friedman appears as the Narrator; Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins also appear in the video.

A modest production starring former Boyzone singer 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 U.S. national tour began in September 2005 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and starred Patrick Cassidy.

A 2007 revival of the London Palladium production at the Adelphi Theatre was the subject of BBC One's second search for a West End star, capitalizing on the success of the BBC's 2006 Lloyd Webber talent search series, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. This new talent search show, Any Dream Will Do, with the participation of Lloyd Webber and other theatre luminaries, sought a new leading man to play Joseph. More than 3 million viewers cast votes during the 9 June 2007 series finale, and made 25-year-old Lee Mead "officially the people's 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 6 July 2007, used Steven Pimlott's (who had died since staging the Palladium production) original direction, with Bombay Dreams star Preeya Kalidas as the Narrator.

Tickets for the show's originally-planned six-month run sold so fast that in three weeks all tickets for the first three months were sold out, and the producers had extended the show's run — and Mead's contract — until 7 June 2008. Before opening night, the producers had banked £10 million in receipts from advance ticket sales. In his review for Variety, David Benedict wrote, "Mead delivers.... [He] is contracted for at least a year. 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 UK tour, which started in 2010, stars Keith Jack as Joseph as of July 2010, opposite Jennifer Potts as narrator.


Act I
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, 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, 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"). In most productions, one brother usually sings the solo; the song often segues into a celebratory hoedown after the bereft Jacob has tottered off the stage.

In Egypt, Joseph is the slave of Egyptian millionaire 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"). He throws Joseph in jail. Depressed, Joseph sings ("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 ("Go, Go, Go Joseph").

Act II
The Narrator talks about 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 the Pharaoh ("Stone the Crows"). (Note: In the 2007 London revival, Pharaoh has a new song, King of my Heart).

Back home, the famine has caught up with Joseph's brothers, who – led by the brother Reuben – express regret at selling him and deceiving their father ("Those Canaan Days"). They hear Egypt still has food and decide to go there to beg for mercy and to be fed, not realising that they will be dealing with Joseph ("The Brothers Come to Egypt"). He gives them handfuls of food and sends them on their way, but plants a golden cup in the sack of his brother Benjamin ("Grovel, Grovel"). 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, though, 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. The show ends with two songs ("Finale: Any Dream Will Do (Reprise)/Give Me My Coloured Coat"), and for curtain call in some big productions, a rock/disco medley of most of the musical's major numbers ("Joseph Megamix").


A woman (in original productions, a man), 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.

The father of twelve sons, Jacob definitely favors Joseph. At times he may appear unfair and shallow, but he is, more importantly, the prophet who recognizes the future and the calling of Joseph, thus saving the House of Israel. Joseph: Obviously his father’s favorite, 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.

Three Ladies:
These multi-talented women appear in the play as many characters: Jacob’s wives, saloon girls, dancing girls, and so on.

Men of the desert, they buy Joseph as a slave, take him to Egypt, and sell him to Potiphar.

A powerful and rich Egyptian, Potiphar purchases Joseph and puts him to work in his household, where he soon realizes that Joseph is honest, hard-working, and a great addition to his pool of help. When he grows suspicious of his wife and Joseph, however, he grows angry and has Joseph thrown into prison.

Mrs. Potiphar:
Beautiful and scheming, Mrs. Potiphar tries to seduce Joseph (unsuccessfully). However, she does manage to rip off much of his clothing just as her husband comes into the room, thus condemning him to prison.

One of Pharaoh servants, the Baker is in prison with Joseph who correctly interprets his dreams and predicts that he will be put to death.

Another of Pharaoh 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.

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.

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 performers also double as Egyptians in many cases.

Eldest son of Jacob; showed kindness to Joseph and was the means of saving his life when his other brothers would have put him to death.

Second son of Jacob; detained by Joseph in Egypt as a hostage.

Third son of Jacob, by Leah; he went down with Jacob into Egypt.

Fourth son of Jacob; he pleads with Joseph when Benjamin is falsely arrested for theft of a goblet; one of his descendants was to be the Messiah.

Fifth son of Jacob; the tribe of Israel descended from him.

Sixth son of Jacob, by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid.

Seventh son of Jacob, by Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; brother of Asher.

Eighth son of Jacob.

Ninth son of Jacob.

Tenth son of Jacob; he had three sons.

Twelfth son of Jacob. Joseph accuses him of stealing the golden cup. After Joseph went missing Benjamin was beloved.

The Wives:
The wives to the eleven brothers (ensemble).

Adult chorus

Children's chorus

Musical Numbers

Act I
Prologue - Narrator
Any Dream Will Do - Joseph, Children
Jacob and Sons - Narrator, Brothers, Wives, Children, Ensemble
Joseph's Coat - Jacob, Narrator, Brothers, Wives, Children, Ensemble
Joseph's Dreams - Narrator, Brothers, Joseph
Poor, Poor Joseph - Narrator, Brothers, Children
One More Angel in Heaven - Reuben, Narrator, Brothers, Wives, Jacob, Children
Potiphar - Children, Narrator, Male Ensemble, Mrs Potiphar, Potiphar, Joseph
Close Every Door - Joseph, Children
Go, Go, Go Joseph - Narrator, Butler, Baker, Ensemble, Joseph, Guru, Children

Act II
Pharaoh's Story - Narrator, Children
Poor, Poor Pharaoh - Narrator, Butler, Pharaoh, Children
Song of the King - Pharaoh, Ensemble
Pharaoh's Dream Explained - Joseph, Ensemble, Children
Stone the Crows - Narrator, Pharaoh, Children, Joseph, Female Ensemble
King of My Heart - Pharaoh
Those Canaan Days - Simeon, Jacob, Brothers
The Brothers Come To Egypt/Grovel, Grovel - Narrator, Brothers, Joseph, Female Ensemble, Children
Who's the Thief? - Joseph, Brothers, Female Ensemble
Benjamin Calypso - Judah, Brothers, Female Ensemble
Joseph All the Time - Narrator, Joseph, Children
Jacob in Egypt - Narrator, Jacob, Children, Ensemble
Any Dream Will Do (Reprise) - Joseph, Narrator, Ensemble, Jacob, Children
Close Every Door (Reprise) - Joseph, Children

Information from Wikipedia


London Production Official Website
Joseph at Really Useful Group
Andrew Lloyd Webber Official Website
Ben Kenright's Joseph UK Touring Production