It’s 2019. You’ve just been cast in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the London Palladium in the U.K.
You’ve blown off classes at drama school to audition (while your faculty have sat and wondered how on earth one person could have so many doctor’s appointments), and here it is, your moment of glory: you’re going to play Joseph in the iconic production. You’re going to collaborate with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Before rehearsals start, you take yourself on a much-deserved vacation to Europe. While you’re away, the phone rings: Lloyd Webber has personally invited you to the workshop of his new version of “Cinderella” in London. It’s the night you get back to London. No problem.
Well, some problems. Your flight’s delayed. Your taxi drops you off at the wrong theatre. You’re breathless after sprinting towards the workshop. You sit down next to an older gentleman, who glances at you with a disapproving look of “where have you been?”.
And that’s how you meet your boss, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, for the first time.
“Joseph” star Jac Yarrow told me this story, with not a lick of exaggeration — the high drama of the situation was palpable over our WhatsApp call.
“I was mortified,” said Yarrow. “But at the interval … he was so lovely. He gave me a hug and said he couldn’t wait to start working on ‘Joseph’ with me. And he was so thrilled I was doing it, and he was so impressed with my audition. Really, he couldn’t have been more supportive that night.”
Yarrow, who brings the role to the Princess of Wales theatre this month, is no stranger to “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” (or the ALW canon, though he admitted under duress his favourite show is actually “Sunset Boulevard”). As a child, Yarrow went to drama school every Saturday, where he and his classmates would act in a condensed version of popular musicals like “Sweeney Todd” and, yes, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“I was cast as Joseph. But I remember being so upset I wasn’t in ‘Sweeney.’ It was my favourite show,” he said, laughing.
“But no, I was Joseph. And we didn’t sing, and we had no costumes. I’m pretty sure I wore my uniform, which was a black T-shirt and running pants.”
It’s clear why Lloyd Webber chose Yarrow as his leading man. In 2019, legendary Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington called Yarrow’s performance as Joseph a “sensational debut,” commenting that he had “just graduated from (drama school) yet gives the impression he was born on the Palladium stage.” Other U.K. critics agreed: The Times’ Ann Treneman called Yarrow “a great Joseph.” Time Out lauded his “terrific pair of lungs and … winningly peppy charisma.”
Yarrow had the chance to revisit the show’s music and book with Lloyd Webber in 2019, which for the young actor was nothing short of surreal.
“He came to rehearsals every now and again because our director was trying to shape up ‘Joseph,’ give it a new feel, a new vibe. And I was lucky enough to be part of the creative process,” he said.
“I had a little bit of a voice and a bit of an input in the room. Particularly for the vocal elements, like I could suggest opting up on certain moments or adding a couple of riffs here and there just to make it a bit more contemporary. But then Andrew would come in, listen to what we’d done and give his approval, which was really cool,” he explained.
“It’s so cool to watch him listen to his music and the new take on it. He’d sit with it for a while, then go away for a while, then let us know in a couple of days whether or not he thought it was appropriate, or whether he enjoyed it … it was amazing to be able to say I worked on a show as iconic as ‘Joseph’ with him hands-on.”
It won’t take long for Toronto audiences to fall in love with Yarrow. He’s already fallen in love with us — for a reason you might not expect.
“Oh my gosh. Puppy yoga,” he gushed. “People keep sending me TikToks of puppy yoga in Toronto. I’m so excited. I’m obsessed with this idea of puppy yoga … I’m going to put peanut butter on myself so the puppies don’t leave me alone the entire time.” (Yes, he’s going to try and sneak in a session in between shows.)
What’s next for Yarrow after the Toronto run of “Joseph” is unclear — in his fantasy, it’s a run of “Sunset Boulevard” opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones — but for now, he’s thoroughly enjoying his time in the city, from Raptors games to afternoons at Ripley’s Aquarium.
“If I ever move here permanently, which I’m very tempted to do, I will become obsessed with basketball,” he said.
Well, as Yarrow surely knows by now, any dream will do.
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