March 12 1999 York Opera House

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Reviewed by Charles Hutchinson

Richard Swerrun was working it out only the other day. He has played Joseph 2,000 times. "That means I must have sung Any Dream Will Do 8,000 times as I do it four times in every show!"

Why, Richard, why? "People are always asking me that question, but I keep doing Joseph because I just love the part. It's a very difficult role to top," says Swerrun, who returns to the Grand Opera House in York in his Technicolor Dreamcoat on Monday.

"I'm offered other musicals but Joseph is a one-off. He sings, he acts, he dances, and he gets to be a pop star. And it's still a phenomenally successful show."

New Zealander Richard first played Joseph nine years ago and is now on his third tour of musical duty in Bill Kenwright's travelling production of the Lloyd Webber and Rice hit. 

He is like an ambassador for the show: "Not only does it have a wonderful story, a rags-to-riches tale that everyone loves, but it's also such a surprise. Yes it's a Biblical story, but it's just not what people expect! I think it is probably THE family musical."

Swerrun says there are no current West End musicals that he craves to join. "It seems to me that all the producers are looking for is someone who's a carbon copy of who they're replacing. That's certainly restrictive, so if I was offered something, it would have to be a new musical or a new adaptation," he says.

"Even colleges are churning out lots of robots, which is very sad. But the situation will have to turn full circle: hopefully people will want to start seeing real performers again and not just sets."

Does he believe he has made an indelible mark on Joseph? "It would be very nice to think so, but then again Joseph is one of those roles that each actor can make his own.  Philip Schofield's Joseph was totally different; so was Jason Donovan's, and I'm sure someone else will come along and put their mark on it once more."

Not that Richard is hanging up his Dreamcoat just yet. "I'll keep doing it as long as I look the part. I'd hate people to start thinking I was too old for it, or if the stage crew started putting up lights behind me. That's when it's time to stop," he says. "Perhaps that will be this yearthen again there is always plastic surgery!!"