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GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS! We are celebrating the best of the Great Bright Way making its way to a comeback. Most importantly, we are just 49 DAYS AWAY till we finally celebrate Broadway’s biggest night of the year….. The 74th Annual Tony Awards. To keep us entertained and celebrate this community we love and dream about, our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN continues with more of our favorite show stopping performances from previous telecasts.
Speaking of dreams, our choice at # 49 on our countdown is truly a musical all about that. This show is a tale from the bible about a young boy with so many dreams, possibilities, and a “Coat of Many Colors”. We of course are talking about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This all sung-through musical features no book but a score by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice.
FUN FACT: JOSEPH is a very personal show that means so much to both NYBT’s very own Amada and Mike. Both have gotten to perform in professional productions of the show. Amada appeared in one of the show’s National Touring companies as a young girl. Meanwhile, Mike took part in MCP’s sold out & one night only 50th Anniversary concert production at Lincoln Center.
From the 1982 telecast, the late and great Laurie Beechman as “The Narrator”, Bill Hutton as the titular role of “Joseph”, and the full original cast perform a medley of many of the show’s notable songs. It includes JACOB & SONS, ONE MORE ANGEL IN HEAVEN, POTIPHAR, BENJAMIN CALYPSO, GO GO GO JOSEPH, SONG OF THE PHARAOH, A PHARAOH’S STORY, ANY DREAM WILL DO, and JOSEPH’S COAT.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT was first conceived in 1967. At the time, a young 17 year old composer by the name of Andrew Lloyd Webber and 20 year old pop songwriter Tim Rice were just off the hands off from writing their first show THE LIKES OF US. A friend of Lloyd-Webber’s family and London schoolteacher Alan Doggett commissioned both Andrew and Tim to write a piece for the Colet Court school 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 music publisher Novello. Both the pieces were based on the Old Testament. However, the request for the new piece came with a 100-guinea advance from Novello. This ended up resulting in creating a pop-vaudeville retelling of the biblical story of Joseph.
The piece officially had its world premiere in March 1968 as a 15-minute pop cantata at Colet Court School in London. It was well received by the audience that William Lloyd Webber (Andrew’s father) arranged for a second performance 2 months later. The 2nd performance was held at Westminster Central Hall, where William worked as the organist. The pop cantata was revised and expanded for an additional 20-minutes. It featured the choir boys of Colet Court and members of the band Mixed Bag singing through the piece. One of the children’s parents in that audience was Derek Jewell, a Sunday Times music critic. At the 2nd performance, he reviewed the piece in the newspaper, calling it a new pop oratorio and raving its innovation and exuberance. 6 months later came a 3rd performance at St Paul’s Cathedral with the piece being expanded once more for an additional 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. The recording featured singer David Daltrey as “Joseph” along with Tim Rice as “The Pharaoh”, the group Mixed Bag, and the Colet Court School choir. 4 years later, an updated concept album of the musical was released in 1971 from Scepter Records. Once again it featured David Daltrey as “Joseph” along with Tim Rice as “The Pharaoh”, and the Colet Court School choir.
In 1970 following the success of both the concept album of JOSEPH and their acclaimed previous stage hit Jesus Christ Superstar, Webber and Rice decided to pull off a full scale stage show of JOSEPH as a “follow-up” to SUPERSTAR. The first American production of the show was an amateur stage production in May 1970, at the Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, Queens, New York City. Following the production, schools and colleges sought to produce the piece. It later went on to launch productions in the UK including a 1972 Fringe staging at the Edinburgh International Festival by the Young Vic Theatre Company. It was well received that the following year of 1973, it transferred to London’s West End at the Albery Theatre running for 243 performances. It would later go through various changes and final updates to the full sung-through musical we all know today.
The final updated version of JOSEPH embarked on a mini Pre-New York tour before officially hitting the Big Apple in 1981 as an Off-Broadway production playing the Entermedia Theatre for 3 months. It was well received that the production officially transferred to its life ON BROADWAY the following year playing the Royale Theatre (now the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre) for 747 performances. Under the direction and choreography of Tony Tanner, the cast was led by….
Bill Hutton (later David Cassidy) as “Joseph”,
Laurie Beechman (later Sharon Brown) as “The Narrator”,
Tom Carder (later Michael Speero) as “The Pharaoh”,
Gordon Stanley as “Jacob”,
David Ardao as “Potiphar”,
and more.
JOSEPH was nominated for 7 Tony Awards in 1982 including BEST MUSICAL. However, the show lost all its categories.
Following its life on Broadway, the show went on to continue to inspire audiences around the world including a North American National Tour and several revamped and updated new productions.
The most recent major production of JOSEPH here in NYC happened in the 90’s. This 1st and only revival was based on an acclaimed 1991 staging that played The London Palladium which its cast album debuted on the UK Album charts at # 1. The revamped revival following London played Toronto, a brief US Tour, and eventually hit Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre in 1993 running for 231 performances. Under the direction of Steven Pimlott and choreography by Anthony Van Laast, the cast was led by….
Michael Damian as “Joseph”,
Kelli Rabke as “The Narrator”,
Robert Torti as “The Pharaoh”,
Clifford David as both “Jacob” and “Potiphar”,
and more.
It did not receive any nominations or wins from the Tony Awards in 1994.
JOSEPH later went on to launch more notable productions around the world including a remounting of the 1991 Palladium production in 2007 (which also included a BBC casting reality show in the UK voting a new lucky talent to play “Joseph”), several touring companies, and more. Currently, it’s being performed as a brand new production at The London Palladium.
Most recently prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, JOSEPH made its way back to the Big Apple with a successful one night only sold out concert staging in celebration of the show’s 50th Anniversary. Produced by Manhattan Concert Productions, it was performed at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center featuring an all-star cast. Under the direction of Michael Arden, the cast was led by….
Noah Galvin as “Joseph”,
Eden Espinosa, Alex Newell, and Jessica Vosk all sharing the role of “The Narrator”,
Merle Dandridge as “The Pharaoh”,
Chuck Cooper as “Jacob”,
Andy Karl as “Potiphar”,
And more.
Along with its triumph on stage, JOSEPH was a smash on the screen. In 2001, PolyGram Video released a direct-to-video presentation of the musical. It later world air on PBS part of Great Performances. Under the direction of David Mamet and bits from the Palladium production, the film featured….
Donny Osmond as “Joseph”,
Maria Friedman as “The Narrator”,
Robert Torti as “The Pharaoh”,
Richard Attenborough as “Jacob”,
Ian McNeice as “Potiphar”,
and more.
Today, there are various productions of JOSEPH all around the world in schools, community, and regional theaters everywhere. It’s one of the most popular shows put on.
Isn’t this musical so powerful?
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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