Jason Donovan is donning the dreamcoat once again – and this time, the Austalian actor is finally handing it on. It’s been three decades since the Neighbours heartthrob swapped Ramsey Street for the West End stage and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biblical musical would provide the pop star with his fourth Number One: ‘Any Dream Will Do’ – the show’s signature tune – went straight to the top of the UK charts. This summer he’s stepping back onto the stage of the London Palladium alongside another stage favourite, Sheridan Smith.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is Based on a story from the Book of Genesis, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is an upbeat poppy show with an abundance of charm. It recounts the story of Joseph, the youngest of 12 brothers, who is exiled by his family and left for dead only to reach the top of Egypt’s political pyramid as a prophet to the Pharaoh.
It starts as a tale of familial envy: Joseph’s siblings see his multi-coloured coat as a symbol of their father’s preference for his youngest son and so sell him into slavery before faking news of his death with a blood-staiined coat. In Eygpt, however, Joseph’s fortunes rise and fall until his ability to foresee the future attracts the attention of Eygpt’s ruler. His dream that 12 years of plenty will be followed 12 of famine led to a stockpiling policy that saves the nation.
Joseph fired the starting gun on one of the most prolific and acclaimed musical theatre careers in history. With lyricist Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber composed his first musical for the pupils of Colet Court School in London, only to watch it work its way into the heart of the West End.
It is a simple show, a straightforward morality tale narrated entirely through song, but its poppy score is held in real affection. Numbers like ‘Close Every Door’ and ‘Go, Go, Go Joseph’ have an enduring appeal that has made Joseph one of the most widely performed musicals in history. By 2008, some 20,000 school and amateur productions had been licensed – but none of them compared to this spectacular staging at the London Palladium. And few Josephs have ever had Donovan’s wholesome charm.