To call it a 'last day' doesn't tell the whole story - it was a day of celebration of all that Lee has achieved since first stepping on to the Adelphi stage some eighteen months before, a day of thanks for the joy he has brought to so many lives. His fans gathered in force and greeted him with great warmth and huge respect, both for the man he has always been and the star he has become.
My personal thanks to all who have contributed photos, especially to Donna and Judith P for their fabulous shots of the final curtain call and speeches - I include only a small selection here (click any on the page to view more) but they capture the atmosphere of a day I feel privileged to have been part of.
The day began with traffic brought to a halt as Lee made his slow progress through the crowd gathered in Maiden Lane, surrounded by smiling faces (and cameras), even from above as some of the cast also enjoyed the view.
As is traditional at cast change or end of run, the matinee featured a series of 'funnies', providing both cast and audience with some much needed light relief on a day of high emotion. Incidentally, just what does it take to make Lee crack?! Then it was time for a huge but good-natured matinee scrum ...
After an evening show in which the audience showed their immense appreciation to Lee, and indeed to the whole superb cast, with cheers, applause and standing ovations, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber presented Lee with a dreamcoat of his own, saying to the audience "You voted for him and you got it spectacularly right!" and to Lee "You have been one of the greatest Josephs, if not the greatest Joseph. You have been a complete joy to work with, a professional, you've just been fabulous."
Lee, speaking with great assurance, thanked Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber for Joseph, the BBC for Any Dream Will Do and the cast, crew and entire Adelphi team for being amazing! He wished successor, Gareth Gates, all the best and finally thanked the audience, making particular mention of those who had been 'more than once', before promising he would see them again soon!
The lone policeman keeping an eye on the matinee scrum had summoned reinforcements in the evening (out of shot below!) to ensure that Lee didn't stop the traffic for a second time. They quickly gave up trying to keep everyone on the pavement however, coning off the inside lane to accommodate the overflow. Even so the crowd stretched far beyond the theatre's frontage and even onto the central reservation, from where I took my last ever 'scrum photo' of Lee... a distant face above the crowd, lit by someone else's auto-focus assist light!!
As Lee takes a well-earned rest, his fans start to adjust to 'life after Joseph', already looking forward to the album promotion work that will be kicking off in a few weeks time!
There is a video of Lee's speech - filmed from the stage for the official record by cast member, Craig Scott - and audio of both Andrew Lloyd Webber's and Lee's speeches (uncut!). And finally, published a couple of weeks later when the cheers had faded, Anita Butler's reflections on Lee's last night - Holding Out for a West End Hero - written for the British Theatre Guide.
Last updated: 15 May 2019