Matt Lapinskas talks of playing Pharaoh in Joseph

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 'Matt Lapinskas as Pharoah. Pic: Comp
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 'Matt Lapinskas as Pharoah. Pic: Comp
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AFTER 18 months embroiled in good old-fashioned East-Enders drama, Matt Lapinskas’ character sailed off into the sunset in 2012.

Three years on, and in the week that the BBC’s groundbreaking soap celebrates its 30th anniversary, the 25-year-old, still best known as Anthony Moon, reveals he’d love a return to Albert Square.

“EastEnders is just one of those things with which it is amazing to have your name associated, even though I am not a part of it anymore,” says Lapinskas, who is currently playing Pharaoh in Joseph And The Amazing Techinicolor Dreamcoat, at the Playhouse this week.

“My character is on cruise somewhere with his brother, but I would love to go back. It was such a good role and to be able to say that I was part of it again would be a great thing.

“But it’s up to them and they are doing a fine job right now with lots of different characters. However, Alfie and Kat are still there too, so there’s always a chance.”

While he waits for his boat to ‘dock’ once more in Walford, Lapinskas has been making a name for himself on stage in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s long-running biblical musical.

“I started back in July, then toured until November, went into panto, had a couple of weeks off, and then came straight back into Joseph.

“For any actor that’s the best thing, having a full diary, doing what you love instead of sitting on the couch or working in a coffee bar. If I can do that for the rest of my life I’ll be happy man.”

Famously, the role of Pharaoh is portrayed as Elvis Presley. Though too young to remember ‘The King’ himself, Lapinskas was more than familiar with his music.

“My dad was a big fan of Elvis, The Beatles and Buddy Holly, so his music has been passed down the generations,” he says. “It is an honour to play someone like that, and the great thing about Pharaoh is that he only thinks he is Elvis... but he isn’t.

“It’s about finding that middle-ground, like being an Elvis impersonator but with a character behind it. It’s quite a tricky role but I’m enjoying it.”

Based on a Biblical parable from the Book of Genesis, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was first performed as a 15-minute pop cantata in 1968.

Nearly five decades on it is one of the most regularly performed musicals worldwide. It’s popularity is simple, explains Lapinskas, Joseph is the Kylie Minogue of musical theatre.

“It’s a show that appeals to all ages. It’s a bit like Kylie. As a pop star she appeals to young kids and the older generation alike, it’s the same with Joseph.

“I look out from the stage and can see a three-year-old nodding their head along with the music, and a 90-year-old standing up waving their Zimmer frame in time to the megamix.

“One minute you’re in Egypt, then you are off to Paris... it’s just nuts, a feelgood family show with great songs.”

At the Playhouse, X Factor contestant Amelia Lily joins the cast as the Narrator.

“She is brilliant. We’ve been running the show from 10am to rehearse her in, and then doing a performance in the evening,” says her co-star, who is used to long days having come second in Dancing On Ice, in 2013.

“Even on EastEnders you could be in from 7am to 7pm, doing 14 scenes a day,” says the actor, “so the jobs I have done in the past have certainly prepped me for touring, which can be quite full on.”

Joseph is the third time Lapinskas has worked in the Capital. The first saw him appear at the 2010 Fringe in a student production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, which was so successful it was reprised at the Assembly Hall the following year.

“It was a student production, but the venue really liked what we did so they helped us come back for a second year,” he recalls. “It was brilliant. I had a great time. I had a lot of friends appearing at other venues so I was able to borrow their passes to go and see loads of different shows. I ended up having a great time.”

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Playhouse, Greenside Place, until Saturday, various times, £17.90-£38.90, 0844-871 3014