Despite losing its star Darren Day, whose immediate departure (after regular absences) was confirmed earlier this week (See News, 21 Mar 2005), the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has called off next week’s closure and extended by five months.

The revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Biblical musical, previously on tour, opened at the New London Theatre on 3 March 2003 (previews from 13 February) and had announced this past January that it would close on 2 April 2005 after a run of more than two years. Following today’s reprieve, booking has now been extended up to 27 August 2005.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was the first-ever collaboration between Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. It started life in 1968 as a 20-minute entertainment for an end-of-term school concert. The musical went on to huge success in the West End and on Broadway and on tours throughout the world. Its score includes "Any Dream Will Do", "Close Ev'ry Door to Me" and "One More Angel".

Prior to the New London run, the musical was last seen in the West End in the early 1990s, when it ran for more than two years at the London Palladium, taking over £47 million at the box office and bringing huge stage success for its Josephs - Philip Schofield and Jason Donovan.

The current production, directed and produced by Bill Kenwright, has featured its own high-profile Josephs, including Boyzone’s Stephen Gately and Ian Watkins, aka ‘H’ from Steps, in addition Day. The title character is now being played by Simon Gorton, with Day’s former partner, Hear’Say’s Suzanne Shaw, as the Narrator (See News, 27 Jan 2005).

Although Day has officially left the production because of “vocal trouble”, it’s believed that personal problems arising from his split from Shaw, with whom he had a child last year, were a contributing factor. Day is now due to play the title role in a new musical version of Alfie, which opens at the Watford Palace Theatre in May.

- by Terri Paddock