‘In the story of the boy whose dream came true’ – Celebrating Joseph with an All Star Concert

Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat has been charming audiences and introducing children to the wonderful world of theatre for 50 years, and it seems that absolutely nothing can stop it now, not even a shutdown causing pandemic. Soon we are to be treated with an all star concert, broadcast online, featuring numerous Joseph cast members from across the years celebrating all that is so very much loved about this colourful production.

As the excitement builds for this special concert, I was fortunate enough to get to talk to some of the cast members of the show all about their time with the show and what it is about Joseph that makes it so special.

What do you think it is about Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream coat that makes it so popular?

Alexandra Doar – – – I think it’s partially the music, and partially the energy that the show requires performers to have. The music itself is timeless and the writers know exactly how to get a tune stuck in your head, and when it is stuck in your head its the happiest music ever! You never want to forget it! Performers in every version I’ve ever seen or been a part of have had a certain contagious energy. You start a show in a bad mood and within 10 minutes you’re high as a kite on the fun, crazy energy from everyone on the stage.

Craig Nash – – – Everyone seems to have some connection to it. Either having performed it at school, watched it in theatre or wore out the classic Donny Osmond video. There aren’t many shows that create that level of nostalgia.

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – For me, what makes Jospeh so popular is that it is a great story, well adapted lyrically with great music and connects immediately with its audience.

Anna Campkin – – – The heart within the story, the hope that everyone of us has within that it’s possible for our dreams to come true and the wonderful assortment of musical styles!

Henry Lawes – – – I feel like Joseph is the Panto that you can watch at any time of year and just like Panto it’s got something for everybody. The kids love the bright colours, the parents love the gimmicks and the grandparents love the classic songs. And then because so many people grew up and are still growing up with Joseph it becomes part of our quintessential musical theatre experiences.

Jenna Lee-James – – – I think its just one of those shows that appeals to all ages. It also has a lot of memories of growing up for so many people get to perform in a schools version of it. It also tells a great story but is so much fun in doing it.

David Wyatt – – – Number One, It’s a fun show full of catchy songs that have you singing all the way home. Number two, It’s colourful and stars a boy band of 12 brothers.

I have loved Joseph ever since I watched the film as a child, and I think that a lot of children get their introduction to theatre through this show, which is wonderful to see. Do you agree?

Alexandra Doar – – – Completely! I’m in the same boat- it was one of the first musicals I saw, the film version with Donny and Maria- and I’ve loved it and dreamed of being in it my whole life. Joseph- along with Cats and My Fair Lady- were the root of my love for theatre, and the reason I chose to pursue it as a career.

Craig Nash – – – The amazing thing about Joseph is that the songs are all really memorable which is down to Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s brilliant music and lyrics. Add to that colourful staging and an abundance of memorable characters and you can see why children love it so much!

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – I absolutely agree that children get a wonderful introduction to what I call ‘music theatre’ in Joseph and lucky for them if they’ve actually be a part of it – and they have to be a part of it as they’re input is integral to the show, which makes it unique and enjoyable

Anna Campkin – – – Absolutely! It was my first musical I saw as a child, with Phillip Schofield! It was the one that got me in to musicals in a big way and finally 20 years after dreaming the dream and listening to the Linzi Hateley recording on repeat it came true!

Henry Lawes – – – Absolutely. My first experience of theatre was in my schools Joseph Choir. And because of the nature of the show, it means that we as kids immediately fall in love with it. It’s kind of hard not to.

Jenna Lee-James – – – Absolutely. Children really connect with this show. It’s so colourful and fun, but it’s also educational. I think its the perfect show to bring children to watch to give them their first experience of the theatre world.

David Wyatt – – – Yes, It was originally written as a school piece, So it’s family friendly from the start, It’s also a biblical story which makes it educational

With the theatres closed and so much moving online, including this charity concert, do you think that we are seeing a change in how the industry works?

Alexandra Doar – – – Hard to tell. I think theatre people are fighters. It’s a timeless saying “The show must go on”, and it’s written in songs “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. As an industry we will come back fighting. It may be rough for a while but I fully believe we will soon be back with a vengeance better and stronger than before the virus left us out at stage door.

Craig Nash – – – Possibly, but the time will come when it’s safe to reopen theatres and we must ensure there’s still a reason for audiences to come back and share in these moments together. I’m loving watching lots of theatre online, but you can never replace the feeling of watching or performing live.

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – With the theatres and other venues being closed at the moment and so much being presented online, its added a new dynamic to what was already there on social media and I think its for the better, it makes it more immediate and I’m sure it will go on changing as a platform even after this pandemic is over.

Anna Campkin – – – We are currently having to. We are a creative lot, good at improvising when someone drops a line on stage; so it’s taking our creativity to a new level to find innovative ways of keeping our performing ambitions and creativity alive.

Henry Lawes – – – I’d say change is an inevitability. Theatre just isn’t going to be able to operate in the same way at least for a while. Whilst I am certain we will eventually return to what we’d call ‘normality’, in the immediate future, there will have to be a focus on finding new ways to bring live theatre to people. One is being shown through a production of The Last Five Years which is being recorded and then released online which is cool. It shows that theatre really can survive in this time.

Jenna Lee-James – – – The industry will certainly be different after all of this is over, which won’t be for some time yet. But I think people’s love and appreciation of theatre will only grow stronger. Live theatre is something really special. You cannot replace the buzz and excitement of sitting in an auditorium waiting for the curtain to rise at the start of the show. I do think more will be available online but hopefully we will be back in auditoriums soon. The love of theatre will draw the audience back. We will just be more aware and will be more courteous to each other.

David Wyatt – – – I wouldn’t say that we are seeing a change, we want people to go back to theatres, but we are seeing a community of people coming together who get to do what they love for a living and sharing that passion with the world. We, as performers, aren’t seen as essential right now, but it is us that are keeping the world entertained during this time.

Do you have a favourite memory of performing in Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream-coat?

Alexandra Doar – – – The final night performing with my first cast. Playing The Narrator in the latest cast of the tour was my professional debut and so it was the last time I performed with my first company. The whole show was like living a dream- the energy, the fun, the feeling, the camaraderie. Even though I was continuing on the tour, the end of that first leg and that first cast was a big high.

Craig Nash – – – My last show at the Newcastle Arena was very emotional from a cast and audience perspective. I got a real sense of community that evening and it will stay with me forever, as will the first ever time I stood behind the mesh during the overture

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – I don’t have a single memory from performing in Joseph, its more a case of ‘memories’ and those are of the audiences joining in and enjoying themselves (as much as we were onstage), so every show was a favourite memory.

Anna Campkin – – – The last performance I gave as the narrator it was magic, some of my closest friends came to watch and I loved every second! I lived it to its full potential and I felt so full of joy I could burst!

Henry Lawes – – – My costume fitting was really fun. I was playing the Pharoah so finally getting to see the full suit and the wig and the Cuban heels was really awesome (I did ask if I could keep the heels, they said no)

Jenna Lee-James – – – I absolutely LOVED performing in Joseph. The Narrator is one of those iconic roles with one of the best scores to sing. I have so many amazing memories from my time in the show it would be so difficult to choose my favourite. One of my funniest however, was when I was singing Potiphar and my fishnet stocking decide to fall down and I did the entire song looking like Nora Batty!!

David Wyatt – – – My final audition for the new London cast of Joseph was on the Wednesday, I started rehearsals on the Thursday and did my first performance, making my West End debut on the Saturday. The moment the curtain went up after the prologue and the brothers were all singing together, I couldn’t help but cry. It was truly a magical moment.

What is your favourite moment in the show? Or a favourite song?

Alexandra Doar – – – Jacob and Sons and The Colors. I don’t think there’s anything more catchy, fun, more exciting, or a better story to tell than in those songs.

Craig Nash – – – I loved the brothers entrance and also the megamix. The energy from the audience was always amazing!

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – As Joseph is more or less through-composed, there aren’t many lines let alone dialogue, so in our West End version, in playing Jacob, I always looked forward to the ‘Jacob In Egypt’ scene and my only line; “My, son!, my son” when I meet Joseph after such a long time after thinking he was dead, it was such a brief, tender and poignant moment.

Anna Campkin – – – The opening number is so magical, it’s where the storytelling first comes in, it’s when you either buy in or not and the lyrics are really special. Had them printed on my tour onesie!

Henry Lawes – – – I’m biased because it was my song but the Song Of The King was always my favourite moment of the show. It’s just a really big number that kicks the show back into high gear so quickly into act 2. And it’s Elvis, and it’s hilarious, and it’s just brilliant.

Jenna Lee-James – – – My Favourite song to sing would have to be ‘Pharoah’s Story’. I loved performing that with the children every night. We had some really wonderful children in the show and connecting with them during that song was something very special.

David Wyatt – – – I love the narrators prologue, I love story telling through song and she/he sets up the show. My favourite moment was whenever I was playing Benjamin, at the end of the show when he is being accused of stealing a cup, and the brothers plead his innocence. It is truly a beautiful moment.

If you could play any role in the show, what role would it be and why?

Alexandra Doar – – – The Narrator has always a dream role of mine. Even in my first audition I could recite the whole show and I just had to do it!

Craig Nash – – – I would never swap Levi/Butler for any role but I would love to sing the Calypso. I think I’d have fun with that!

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – If there were a role I could play in Joseph, it would have to be as Narrator but only a younger, slimmer version of me – I stick out at being 6 feet 7!, so not suitable for most of the other roles. I’m used to playing authoritative roles and have been described as having ‘presence’ on stage and Narrator has to have some sense of authority in certain senes of the show, to hold the audience’s attention and drawing their attention and although its not the title role, it is the busiest role onstage.

Anna Campkin – Narrator! But I lived that dream! It was amazing! Any other role I’d love to play pharaoh if I was a guy it always looks so fun!

Henry Lawes – Again I’m biased but it is Pharoah. The role is just so much fun to do and it meant that I could still join in with the brothers. It’s probably one of the most hilarious and yet coolest roles in modern musical theatre.

Jenna Lee-James – – – Eva Peron in Evita is my dream role but the role I would love to sing would be Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. What an incredible role. being able to sing ’The Prayer’ would be something really wonderful.

David Wyatt – – – Pharaoh! I think I’d look good in that catsuit!

Over the years, the music of Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream-coat has become legendary in its own right. What is it like to get to perform these iconic songs?

Alexandra Doar – – – Incredible! They’re those songs that you just put on while you’re singing in the kitchen, or the shower, and you get carried away. It’s that feeling- and then getting paid and applauded to do it!

Craig Nash – – – Joseph is one of those bucket list shows and I’m very grateful to have done it professionally.

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – I’m classically trained as a performer and my background was initially in opera, so for me it was refreshing to be involved in another branch of ‘music theatre’ and an iconic show at that. Some people from the classical world may look down on musical theatre and may say derogatory things about it and that it is not important, but I agree with Pavarotti who has done his fair share of ‘crossover’ collaborations, who does not accept these views and is quoted as saying “There is good and bad music”. Joseph, without a doubt is ‘good’ music and I love the score and although not a solo song, I never tired of listening to ‘Joseph’s Coat’ and loved singing Jacob’s set piece, ‘Canaan Days’.

Anna Campkin – – – Awesome! Especially when we performed at the Newcastle Arena! That was epic! It’s so fun and the audiences are great and supportive you can’t help but love it every night!

Henry Lawes – – – It’s a lot of fun. That’s the real joy of performing the show. It’s just as much fun for us to sing and perform the songs as it is for the audiences to listen to them.

Jenna Lee-James – – – In one word…..FUN. Joseph made me smile every single show. The music is so uplifting and you cannot help but smile. I truly loved singing this score every night. Being able to sing bits of it again for this special concert has not only brought back so many memories for me but has really uplifted me throughout this challenging time.

David Wyatt – – – It’s fun, the audience love it too so there is always a magical atmosphere.

Is there anything we, as theatre fans, can do to help the industry in these trying times?

Alexandra Doar – – – Support the charities that are made for actors and performers. Buy tickets to see the shows you want to see far in the future. Any friends you have in the industry who are running workshops and classes to earn money- share their page, do the classes, recommend them to others! Every little helps, and if we can grow and connect with each other now as theatre professionals and fans, then we can come out the other end stronger than ever.

Craig Nash – – – Keep supporting theatres online. Donate where you can, especially to the smaller regional and fringe theatres, who need our support more than anyone. And of course buy lots of tickets when we’re back up and running!

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – In these trying times, as performers all we ask of the theatre fans is to keep enjoying and encouraging what we do and we’ll try to deliver as best we can as a live show needs an audience, other wise what is the point

Anna Campkin – – – Sign any petitions asking the government to remember the industry as we need governmental support. Stay fans, stay loving it and experiencing every online performance you can and be ready for when it all comes back fully!

Henry Lawes – – – There are loads of charities out there that are raising money throughout this time for actors and theatres, and it’s being done through performances. Acting For Others is the big one I know but there are so many. Also, anything anyone can do to help the National Theatre is brilliant. The free shows they’re giving us show why we really can’t let that institution go under.

Jenna Lee-James – – – I would say just keep supporting theatre and the wonderful people who work within it. The creatives, Producers, cast, band, stage management, crew, Costume design, Sound design, Lighting design, FoH, stage door, casting and many more. It takes more than a cast onstage to create a show and right now there are so many people in the industry out of work and desperately trying to care and protect their families. As a community we have to stay strong and support each other. Our theatre’s are currently being made safe for all to walk back through those front of house and stage doors and when we eventually are able to I think we all need to help each other. DO NOT GIVE UP ON US. We will be back soon SAFE and STRONGER than ever.

David Wyatt – – – Donate to all the different charities including Acting for Others. When show dates are finally released, book book book!

It’s amazing to see Jospeh and the amazing Technicolor dream-coat celebrating such a big anniversary, do you think that it has the power to go for another 50 years?

Alexandra Doar – Definitely. It’s a timeless story, it’s fun, people grow up knowing it, teach it to their children, it’s like a campfire story of olden times, or a nursery rhyme no one knows how they learned. It’s just something that will keep on going- just like the theatre industry. We’ll all just keep on going!

Craig Nash – – – The songs are still as catchy as ever, and as long as that’s still the case, I don’t see why not!

Anthony Stuart Lloyd – – – Joseph reaching a milestone of 50 years plus, is a true testament to its ‘creatives’, cast and audiences and it has proven that it has the power to go on longer than as far back as the Old Testament “Way, way back many centuries ago”! With set pieces and such great music, its a testament to the show that I remember some of my mum’s girlfriends going ‘in’ to the theatre singing the tunes! So they’re kids and grandkids will be familiar with the show and they’re kinds will no doubt have a connection, its the gift that keeps on giving!

Anna Campkin – – – Another 500 easy! It’s such a special show. The bible story has lasted so many years, and the musical has the energy and vibrancy to do the same!

Henry Lawes – – – I wouldn’t want to put a time stamp on it but I’d say that as long as there are people out there who have fond memories of Joseph, there will be a production of Joseph running.

Jenna Lee-James – – – I would love to see Joseph go on for another 50 years. The show is timeless and will stay with us all throughout our lives. Generation through generation. Would love to hear children still singing the colours of the coat in 50 years time….and I would love to sing along with them…if I can still remember them by then!

David Wyatt – – – Of course! It’s Joseph! It’s already stood the test of time, what’s another 50 years??

I would like to thank Alexandra, Craig, Anthony, Anna, Henry, Jenna and David for their time and their answers to this interview, as well as wish them the very best for the concert and the future.

Follow @JosephConcert for updates on the upcoming concert!

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