Mead follows an illustrious line of former Josephs, including Jason Donovan, Philip Schofield, David Cassidy, Andy Gibb, Donny Osmond, Stephen Gately and Ian ‘H’ Watkins. After ten gruelling weeks of sing-offs and workshops at Joseph School, the public last month voted Mead – already a professional actor, whose credits, in ensemble roles, have included The Phantom of the Opera in the West End and a previous tour of Joseph - their leading man, the so-called “people’s Joseph” (See News, 11 Jun 2007). But did he prove himself to be the critics’ Joseph as well?
First night critics agreed that the musical is going to be a commercial hit – it’s already taken an estimated £10 million at the box office and has extended booking through to next June - that will have camp, colourful, family appeal. While Lee Mead himself received mixed remarks, few could deny his genuine likeability. And in the end, most critics, despite their reservations with reality TV casting and a West End awash with musicals, couldn’t resist the enduring “joie de vivre” of Lloyd Webber and Rice’s freshman bulls-eye. Several also paid tribute to the efforts of the still-polished production’s late director Steven Pimlott, to whom the revival has been dedicated.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat started life in 1968 as a 20-minute entertainment for an end-of-term school concert. By the time it received its Broadway premiere in 1982, it had been expanded into a full two-hour show. Steven Pimlott’s production first opened in 1991 at the Palladium, where it ran for over two-and-a-half years, and also transferred to Broadway in 1993. Pimlott, who died in February (See News, 15 Feb 2007), later directed the all-star 1999 film – featuring Joan Collins, Richard Attenborough, Alex Jennings, Christopher Biggins and Maria Friedman as well as Donny Osmond.
- by Ryan Woods & Terri Paddock