Andrew Lloyd Webber and Elton John team up for ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ animated feature

Among the titles announced by STX’s Motion Picture Group chairman Adam Fogelson at Cinema Con this week was an animated film adaptation of Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular stage musical “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” This project was announced in the fall of 2013 and news came in early 2014 that Elton John would be producing but there has been nothing more till now.

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Rice and Lloyd Webber originally wrote this tuner based on the story of Joseph from the Bible’s Old Testament as a 15-minute pop cantata for British schools in 1968. They expanded their idea and recorded it as a concept album one year later.After the full-length version was presented by the Young Vic Theatre Company in 1972, theatre producer Michael White and impresario Robert Stigwood mounted that production in London’s West End in February 1973, where it would run for 243 performances.

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Using the success of their second rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar” to advertise “Joseph” in America as their follow-up it finally made its way to New York at the Entermedia Theatre off-Broadway on November 18, 1981 before quickly transferring to Broadway at the Royale Theatre on January 27, 1982. The production would go on to earn six Tony Award nominations for Best Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Bill Hutton), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Laurie Beechman), Best Book of a Musical (Rice), Best Original Score (Rice/Lloyd Webber), and Best Choreography (Tony Tanner). Unfortunately, it ended up going home empty-handed. The Broadway production ended on September 4, 1983 after a run of 747 performances.

The musical had a renewed life in the 1990s, including a six-month stop on Broadway. A filmed version was released straight-to-video in 1999 starring Donny Osmond, who had previously played the title role in Toronto and on tour in North America. The rest of the cast included three-time Olivier winner Maria Friedman (“By Special Arrangement” [1995], “Passion” [1997], and “Ragtime” [2004]), Oscar-winning filmmaker Richard Attenborough (“Gandhi” [1982]), Golden Globe winner Joan Collins (“Dynasty” [1981-89]), and Tony nominee Robert Torti (“Starlight Express” [1987]).

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This animated film adaptation will be produced through John’s production company, Rocket Pictures in association with Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Lloyd Webber and Rice are expected to write some new songs for the film. They won the Best Original Song Oscar in 1997 for ‘You Must Love Me’ which they wrote for the film adaptation of another one of their classic musicals, “Evita”.

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