Eat mindfully, go to the gym, rehearse, psychology student Reuben is ready for York Stage’s Joseph at Grand Opera House

Lighting up the lead role: Reuben Khan as Joseph in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

REUBEN Khan will play the lead role for York Stage for the first time in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from tomorrow (12/4/2024).

Not that the third-year University of York psychology student is a stranger to stepping into the spotlight in a Nik Briggs production at the Grand Opera House, York.

“I had more than a week’s notice this time, that’s the main difference,” says Reuben, 23, seated with his Technicolor attire behind him in Dressing Room No 1 ahead of Tuesday’s rehearsal.

“For Beautiful [the Carole King musical], Nik called me a week before the show opened to say, ‘look, you wouldn’t happen to be free, to play Gerry Goffin in the early performances, would you?’.”

Frankie Bounds had been rehearsing the role of King’s co-songwriter, husband and ‘serial womaniser’ for his last performance in York before starting studies at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

“He’d checked with Mountview early on that it would be OK, but then suddenly Frankie was told he’d have to go down to the theatre school in the first week, and that’s why I stepped in. That was an interesting experience,” recalls Reuben.

“I didn’t know much about the show, I hadn’t seen it before. So I had to learn a few songs and learn the lines as quickly as possible, and l loved doing it. Obviously the music is phenomenal, the story moves at a pace and it’s just a great show – and it was nice to have the chance to watch Frankie when he came back during the second week.”

Reuben, from Burnley, has past experience of appearing in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph. “I did the show twice when I was 12, once at my school, Unity School, and then with Basics Junior Theatre School. Both times I played Judah [one of Jacob’s sons], and there was a crossover between the two productions. I finished one and, not long after, I did the other.”

He is delighted to be taking on the title role, performing alongside Hannah Shaw’s Narrator and Amy Barrett’s Pharaoh, among others.

“It’s one of those shows where the vast majority of people have come into contact with it, whether it’s at school or, in my case, my mother having the songs on in the car,” says Reuben. Then there’s the film, and there’s always a tour going on or a local production – or people may know the Bible story of Joseph.

Reuben Khan performing in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

“I knew the vast majority of songs already, so I feel like I’ve barely touched the book because the songs were ingrained in me!”

Following in the sandal steps of the likes of Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield, Donny Osmond, Lee Mead and Joe McElderry holds no fears for Reuben. “Honestly, it’s great fun. It’s a funny role to some extent, as you can kind of understand some of the qualms that his brothers have about him! Joseph is flawed, and you think, if I was one of his brothers, I’d be having problems with him,” he says.

“But at the same time, he represents the everyman. Yes he’s flawed but he tries his best, people around him either like him or they don’t, and there’s something nice about playing a character who the audience is rooting for. It’s good fun.”

Reuben has enjoyed responding to the direction of Nik Briggs. “He has this overarching vision that he puts across incredibly well, to get the best out of us by directing in a very fluid, creatively free way, which is massively important, without micro-directing us,” he says. “He also has this ability to stay level-headed, which is such a skill, something that I’ve not seen in a lot of people in his position.”

Reuben’s preparations have stretched beyond rehearsals to ensuring he will be in peak fitness for a role that involves “wearing not a lot of clothes” (except when he is in his “day to day” coat or the Technicolor dreamcoat of the title).

“It’s all part of the tongue-in-cheek side of the show that Joseph is this half-dressed man! When I knew I would be doing the role, initially it was at the back of my mind, but in the past two months it’s been very much to the front – and at the same time, I’m trying to focus on the third year of my university studies too!

“I’ve never spent so much time keeping an eye on what I’m eating, going to the gym most days of the week for six weeks, to be in the best shape – just in time for the summer!”

On top of his Joseph rehearsals and university studies, Reuben is in the middle of auditioning for drama schools. “I’m studying psychology, but I want to go into musical theatre, and the second I say I’m studying psychology, they say, ‘oh, that’s really interesting’!” he says of his auditions at Associated Studios and the Royal Academy of Music in London to do a Masters degree in musical theatre.

“I guess it’s because psychology is all about understanding people, and that’s the same with acting, understanding a character.”

Now, after such roles as Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods and Bobby in Company for the university’s Central Hall Musical Society, Reuben is ready to go, go, go, Joseph from tomorrow.

York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, April 12 to 20, 7.30pm except April 14, 15 and 19; 2.30pm, April 13 and 20; 4pm, April 14; 5pm and 8pm, April 19. Box office: