In the same way the Avengers assemble to fight baddies a crack squad of Josephs have come together to perform an online megamix version of that classic musical for showbiz charity Acting For Others.
As well as Darren Day, Jess Conrad and Jaymi Hensley, who have all played the man with the multi coloured coat over the last 52 years, the Josephs are joined by a team of 30 former ensemble performers.
The original idea of this charity event came from Jordan Doolan who runs a Facebook fan site. His suggestion caught the attention of West End performer and producer Adam Lacey who decided he wanted to help turn the idea from a concept into a production.
“Jordan had this idea that everyone is in lockdown and the London production we saw with Sheridan Smith, Jac Yarrow and Jason Donovan wasn’t likely to reopen this year,” says Adam Lacey. “As the theatres had gone dark why not bring a bit of colour to people’s lives and try something a bit different.
Lacey became the executive of the ‘Joseph All Star Concert’ pulling out his extensive contacts book to find actors and creatives who had performed in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first smash hit, and soon hit the jackpot when a Joseph legend immediately signed up.
“I contacted my friends at the Really Useful Group, including Nigel Wright who has worked on countless cast albums and films, like the Evita picture with Antonio Banderas and Madonna back in 1996 right up to Love Never Dies.
“More importantly, he has pretty much worked on every Joseph cast recording from 1991, including the Jason Donovan single that got to number one in the UK charts. Nigel messaged me to ask if he could get onboard as the sound designer, and that was a big selling point.”
As word got around the tight knit world of former Joseph casts from across the years that an online show was happening they didn’t want to miss out so started heading back towards the promised land.
“Rather than it being a concept idea of the odd song from Joseph it became this celebration of the 52 years of the show worldwide,” notes Lacey. “We’ve managed to get Darren Day, Maria Friedman, who did the film with Donny Osmond back in 1999, we’ve got West End legend Ria Jones and Jess Conrad OBE, who first played the role in 1970.
“It became this cast of alumni Josephs and ensemble who celebrate the last 52 years from Jess Conrad back in the seventies to Mark McMullan who was the last Joseph on the UK tour for Bill Kenwright.”
To overcome complex licencing issues for a show that has never been done in this way before it’s not a full version of the whole show, but for diehard fans it will be a rare chance to see all the classic songs they love in a condensed form with all the artists performing from home.
“We start with the prologue as you would in the show with the narrators, and then move into the megamix, which is essentially all the best parts of Joseph. We have a standalone version of Any Dream Will Do, and we have Close Every Door, and the reprise of Any Dream Will Do, which has the big climax of Give Me My Coloured Coat.”.
What is fascinating about this version is it’s a unique chance to see top class West End performers performing stripped down versions as a collective of Josephs that really focuses the attention on Rice’s witty words and Lloyd Webber’s gift for melody.
“When you see any production you are wowed by the music, but sometimes that becomes secondary to the visual aspects of the set, the costumes and the lights. This is an intimate moment as there are no costumes, no sets and no lights – it’s just the actor and the music.”
Although the performance is free the team are asking anyone who watches it to donate whatever they can to Acting For Others, The charity has already raised over £600,000 to support creatives struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic as work has dried up for many of them. https://www.actingforothers.co.uk/
“The cause is great, which did entice a lot of actors to come onboard, but speaking to all of the performers you get to hear their stories about their time in Joseph and the one thing they all had in common with each other was the fun this musical brings to the audience, and the fun they had doing it.
“They say it was never felt like going to work, but catching up with friends, and enjoying a good time.”