Lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber are venerated as the team that gave the world hit musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Little could the two Englishmen have known, when they dashed off a 15-minute “pop canta” for a school choir in 1967, that the resulting Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would go on to have over 20,000 productions. Or, for that matter, that it would take over four decades to make it to Japan.
A precursor to the even more famous Superstar, the musical puts a kid-friendly psychedelic spin on the biblical parable of Joseph, son of Jacob. Its long-overdue Japan debut comes courtesy of Minnesota’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, with American Idol finalist Anthony Federov in the lead and a chorus of 30 children drawn from Tokyo’s international schools. Metropolis spoke with Federov ahead of his trip here.
What was your first impression of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?
My first impression of this show was that it was so energetic and diverse, with so many different styles of music. You never get bored.
How did your experiences in American Idol prepare you to play Joseph?
Musical theater in general is extremely hard: it requires discipline, patience, a continuous desire to work hard to improve your craft, and really believing in your abilities as a performer. All those things became a part of my work ethic when I was on Idol, and now I am able to carry it over to the musical theater stage as I play Joseph.
Tell us how you rehearsed the part.
Before I started to rehearse, I rented the DVD of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond. I had to get familiar with the show since I’d never seen it, and I watched the movie several times. Then I spent about three weeks learning the music, [so I would be] able to focus on the staging of the show when rehearsals began.
What is the most difficult part about playing Joseph?
Keeping a straight face during some of the scenes. The characters in this play are so funny. I always want to laugh when I am interacting with them, but I know I can’t break out of character—I have to stay focused.
What is your favorite part of the musical?
At the very end, Joseph reunites with his father after not seeing him for so long. The reason I love this part the most is because it really shows that no matter what happens in life, the bond between a father and son can never be broken.
What does Joseph have to say to contemporary audiences?
Joseph’s message is simple: anything is possible… You can achieve anything you want because you are what you feel. Whatever your dreams are, they will come true if you believe in yourself and you don’t give up.
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
English-language performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Mar 3-14, various times. ¥9,000 (A)/¥12,000 (S). Tokyo International Forum Hall C, Yurakucho. Tel: HoriPro 03-3490-4949. http://meturl.com/joseph