Thursday July 20, 2000
JOSEPH IS NORWEGIAN
Viv Hardwick talks to Arvid Larsen who had never heard of
technicolor dreamcoats until he came to England.
Norwegian Arvid Larsen has to be honest, his fellow countrymen aren't too familiar with the Lloyd Webber-Rice musical tale of a technicolor dreamcoat. Despite the show touring almost constantly from the end of 1979, and breaking records in the West End, Larsen admits that he didn't know about the Joseph phenomenon until he came to England in 1993.
The latest Joseph who is heading north for Newcastle, says: "I couldn't see myself taking this performance to Norway. Joseph is very much a British thing and has become an institution in this country but it's not so widely known in Europe like Phantom of the Opera and Cats." He's the latest in a long line of young dreamers to break into big-time showbiz using Bill Kenwright's long-running touring version of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Darlington's Civic Theatre hit the headlines in April this year when Belgian Tim Driesen developed laryngitis, stand-in Graham Tudor was only available for one night and third choice Patrick Jamieson leapt aboard a train to rescue the day with hours to spare. "The show will always be bigger than the cast and the seats sell because Joseph appeals to the whole family and includes lots of different styles of music. If I do a good job I always feel happy
afterwards and it is the cast who receive the audience's response ... so we must be doing something right," he adds.
Larsen, 30, won a place at the Guildhall School of Acting in 1993 thanks to funding from the Norwegian Government - something he realised was good fortune compared to the struggles of British youngsters to gain any funding at all. "I did have to find my own living costs which I am still paying back but I am determined to buy my own house soon because I'm tired of living out of a suitcase," adds Larsen who admits that he's left behind more shampoo and soap in digs than he ever thought humanly possible. He dubs himself an actor who sings and is keen to find a West End show or TV work after completing a six month contract with Joseph in October. "I was actually studying to be a lawyer and reached almost 20 before I decided that I should try acting and singing. I've always loved England and had an ear for languages so I knew this was the country where I stood the best chance of success", he explains. Even so our language can prove puzzling and Larsen was deep into rehearsal for Joseph before he had to confess to Bill Kenwright that he didn't have a clue about the meaning of fratricide - the act of killing one's brother.