Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical sensation Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat began in 1968 as a fifteen minute "pop cantata" for Colet Court, St. Paul’s all boys London prep school, when the head of the music department asked Mr. Webber if he would write something for the annual Easter concert. After consulting with his friend Tim Rice, they decided to create a piece about Joseph and his coat of many colors from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. The concert was such a success that new performances were arranged for Westminster Central Hall and later St. Paul’s Cathedral, where it was expanded to 35 minutes with new songs. The London Sunday Times gave the show a positive review and suddenly the stage was set for Joseph to take on a surprising journey of its own.
In the years that followed Joseph’s initial success, Webber and Rice created the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, and in 1970 released its concept album. It immediately shot to number one on the Billboard chart and became a launching pad for stage interpretations throughout England and the U.S. Within one year the show opened on Broadway and later in London’s West end. Throughout the decade, Jesus Christ Superstar continued to be staged all over the world with great success.
While Superstar continued to gain the attention of a world-wide audience, Joseph continued to be performed at schools, churches and other smaller-scale venues. In 1971, in the wake of Superstar’s success, Webber and Rice decided to promote Joseph as a follow-up to Superstar by releasing it as a concept album.
The album immediately climbed the charts and enjoyed a rapid transformation to its first fully-staged production at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, England. The creative team continued to expand and transform the show, and by 1973 it opened in the West End in London. The musical had a similar journey in the U.S. with performances in small venues, colleges and churches until it opened Off-Broadway in 1981. In January 1982 the show moved to the Royale Theatre on Broadway where it ran through September 1983 for a total of 749 performances. The Broadway production received wide critical acclaim and several Tony Award nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat expanded in the public eye when pop idol David Cassidy took over the role of Joseph in the Broadway and National Tour productions in 1983 and 1984. When fellow teen-idol Donny Osmond was cast as Joseph in the 1992 Toronto production, the show once again became a household topic and its popularity led to a successful six-year North American tour and 1999 film directed by David Mallet that also starred Osmond in the lead role. The show was revived on Broadway, playing at the Minskoff Theatre from November 10, 1993 to May 29, 1994 for 231 performances. Following the tradition of American pop stars in the lead role, multi-platinum recording artist, American Idol and Broadway star Clay Aiken will perform in the Ogunquit production in the dazzling coat worn by Donny Osmond during the international tour.
Joseph’s humble beginnings led to one of the most celebrated musicals ever staged. It continues to be staged in venues both small and large and has been performed thousands of times throughout the world. This timeless story of jealousy, forgiveness and hope lives on in this beloved show.