Joseph and the Dreamcoat

The story of Joseph interpreting the dreams of the Pharaoh is one of the best known dream events in the Christian Bible. It has also inspired one of the most famous musicals of the 20th century: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (or, for my American friends, Technicolor Dreamcoat).

The show, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, has been performed in London's West End and on Broadway and was made into a 1999 movie. After more than thirty years it's still very popular with many people keen to buy tickets to any revival.

The Story

*** Warning: Spoilers follow

Although Dreamcoat is clearly inspired by the Genesis Bible story, it doesn't stick to it with great accuracy. The usual presentation is a light-hearted even humorous one. Some Christians find this disrespectful, others consider it an effective way of getting the story across to a modern audience.

Act One

The musical takes place in two acts. Act one begins with Joseph's early life where he has been given his amazing "coat of many colours" by his father Jacob. (As an aside, some people think that "coat of many colours" is a mistranslation of the original Hebrew which might just have meant "long silken coat"). Joseph also dreams of ruling over the family and this, combined with the presumed favouritism of Jacob, makes his brothers jealous of him. They sell him into slavery and pretend he's been killed.

Act Two

In Act 2 Joseph is taken to the Pharaoh of Egypt who want help understanding his famous dream of seven fat and seven skinny cows. The Pharoah is so impressd by Joseph's explanation that he gives him a court position. Later, Joseph's brothers come begging for food. They fail to recognise their now successful brother and, after a trick with a planted "stolen" cup, Joseph finally reveals himself and is reunited with his father. They all, we assume, live happily ever after.