The Story of Joseph
In the summer of 1967, Andrew Lloyd Webber was asked by his younger brother’s school to write a 'pop cantata' for the school choir.
Andrew immediately approached his friend Tim Rice to ask if he would write lyrics for the project. The first performance was only 15 minutes long.
Over the years the show grew in length and popularity. The show debuted in the United States in 1970, and reached Broadway in 1982, where it ran for 749 performances.
The story is based on the Biblical story of Joseph, found in the book of Genesis in chapters 37 and 39 - 45. In the musical, a narrator encourages the audience to dream, and tells the story of the dreamer Joseph. The father Jacob is introduced with his 12 sons. Joseph is the 11th son, but the first by wife Rachel and is his father’s favorite, which causes his brothers to be very jealous. To make matters worse, Joseph keeps telling his brothers about his dreams, where it is clear Joseph is destined to rule over them.
The brothers decide to kill their brother. However, plans change and instead they sell him to Midianite traders and Joseph begins a new life as a slave in Egypt. His distraught father is told Joseph has been killed by wild animals.
In Egypt, Joseph’s skills pay off and he becomes superintendent of Potiphar’s household. Potiphar’s wife finds Joseph attractive, but when he refuses her advances, she makes false allegations and Joseph lands in prison.
While in prison, Joseph uses his “dream” skills to interpret the dreams of two fellow prisoners. Later, one of these former prisoners tells Pharaoh of Joseph’s skills and Joseph is summoned to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph tells Pharaoh that Egypt will experience 7 years of abundance, followed by 7 years of famine. Pleased with Joseph’s help, Pharaoh makes Joseph Viceroy over Egypt and Joseph makes plans for storing grain during the abundant years in preparation for the famine to come.
Meanwhile, several of Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt in search of grain when the famine reaches Canaan. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him. Joseph devises a plan for his brothers to reunite him with brother Benjamin, who was Jacob’s other son by favorite wife Rachel.
The story ends happily with the repentance of the brothers for their treatment of Joseph, Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers, and the reunion of patriarch Jacob with his long-lost son, Joseph.