In 1968, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice had been collaborating for two years, after being brought together by Lloyd Webber's agent, Desmond Elliott.
They had written a musical and had some songs recorded but, none of their projects had yet been staged. They had their sights on the West End, so a commission from the director of the choir at Colet Court School was not what they had in mind, never the less they took it on.
Only 15 minutes of music was required, on a vaguely religous subject. In settling on a Bible story, Rice and Lloyd Webber gave themselves the challenge of relaying the narrative without dialogue. The story would have to be told through it's lyrics, aided by a variety of musical styles. With Lloyd Webber's wide musical taste, it was easy for him to switch from calypso to musical comedy just to name a few.
The performance on 1 March 1968 went so well that another show was arranged for 12 May, at the Central Hall, Westminster. With an extra five minutes of material added, the piece was performed as before by the school choir, but with the addition of a rock group, 'The Mixed Bag', playing along with the school orchestra.
Among the audience was the Sunday Times critic Derek Jewell. He wrote a review with a heading that said "Pop Goes Joseph", the review said "a considerable piece of barrier-breaking by it's creators. Throughout its twenty-minute duration it bristles with wonderfully singable tunes. It entertains. It communicates instanly, as all good pop should."
The piece was recored and published after the success of the second show and the great review. A third production was shown on 9 November at Saint Paul's Cathedral, which was now 35 minutes long. After this performance there where more reviews which got Rice and Lloyd Webber got talking.
1969 sealed the fate of the show with not only a fourth performance but with in a month of the recording being released 3000 copies had already been sold.
The legendary Impressario David Land heard the album and immediately signed Time Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, they were signed up for three years so they could devote all thier time to writing. Under his guidence they wrote 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Evita'.
It was just a matter of time before 'Joseph' hit the professional stage. The Young Vic Thetare Company did the first reall stage show, who took it to Edinburgh Festival, then did a run in the Young Vic itself. From there it transferred to the Roundhouse. It was still a short piece, just forty minutes long, but its creators continued working on it. By the time it went into the Albery Theatre in the West End, in February 1973, it had grown a little more, and was to go on growing until it reached its present, two-act length. In the West End, it proved the smash-hit of which Rice and Lloyd Webber had dreamed, back in 1968.
From then on, 'Joseph's' success is history. Bill Kenwright's record-breaking production toured the UK for 12 phenomenal years form 1979, attracting over 5 Million fans from up and down the country.
After the show went back to the West End it toured for awhile then ot went back to the original tour which started in 1979. It still goes on today, so if you have not seen it yet SEE IT NOW!! You don't know what your missing!