Megan and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

 

 

NEW SCOTLAND — When is a coat a work of art? When is a coat the center of a play?

When it is Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The character Joseph wears his coat in this weekend’s school production in Voorheesville — where it takes on a life of its own, swirling in its many-splendored colors.

“It definitely has a stage presence,” says the woman who created the coat, Megan Viscio.

The first time the young actor, Logan Esposito, saw the coat, “He nearly fell on the floor with excitement and just could not believe that this was going to be his coat,” she said.

She and her mother-in-law, Marie Viscio, had spent months envisioning the coat and laboriously piecing it together.

The pair call themselves The Idea Ladies. “We kind of see these ideas … coming together and making something really beautiful,” says Megan Viscio in this week’s Enterprise podcast.

They used a song from the musical for inspiration. “The song talks about every color that’s in this coat … That’s where we started …I just went to my fabric and started pulling colors, bright colors, a lot of rainbow kinds of colors and put them together,” said Viscio.

The young actor’s reaction, she said, “was the pinnacle of all the months of work that we had put into this coat.”

The musical is based on the Bible’s Book of Genesis and tells the story of Jacob who has 12 sons and favors Joseph, giving him a coat of many colors to show his affection, which makes his brothers jealous.

“I look handsome, I look smart. I’m a walking work of art,” sings Joseph. “Such a dazzling coat of colors, how I love my coat of many colors.”

“We have never liked him all that much before,” sing his brothers. “And now this coat has got our goat. We feel life is unfair.”

The brothers sell Jacob into slavery and tell their father he has died. But, in the end, Joseph saves them.

Although the plot is based on a Bible story, Tim Rice took liberties with the lyrics as did Andrew Lloyd Webber with the music.

“There’s a number where the kids are all in sixties costumes and the Pharaoh’s kind of Elvis — so it’s very fun and lively ….,” Megan Viscio said of the musical. “The dancing and singing, it’s just beautiful.”

Marie Viscio is a seamstress and a quilter. She made wedding gowns for her two daughters, Katrine and Charlotte, and for Megan, the wife of her son, Nicholas. Like her quilts, each gown was made with care and love, and each was individually tailored to fit the style of the bride.

Megan wore a wedding gown that would have suited Cinderella. Marie Viscio made seven skirts of tulle, layering one on top of the other, to make it look as if Megan could float — “just like a cloud,” said Marie Viscio.

“What I love most about her quilts,” said Megan Viscio, “is she will use her scraps — people give her leftover material …. To take scraps and make it into a beautiful quilt is actually really difficult. And I’ve never seen quilts as beautiful as hers.”

Megan Viscio asked her mother-in-law for help with Joseph’s coat because of her expertise, she said, explaining, “It’s a coat and then down below it’s like panels and a big skirt that balloons out that looks like a parachute.”

She went on, “I’m always learning from her … I love her so much.”

Megan Viscio revealed “a backstage tidbit of information.” She said of her mother-in-law, “She calls me her pearl and I call her my mother of pearl. And so, I’ve included in the jacket two pearls. So maybe people can try to find those two pearls that are among the many colors of the dreamcoat.”

Megan Viscio started creating costumes for Voorheesville musicals five years ago when her son Joseph was in the fifth grade. The costumes for “The Little Mermaid Junior” were challenging — “and I just loved it,” said Viscio.

She went on to create costumes for “The Wizard of Oz,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Annie,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Viscio’s daughter Alice, a sixth-grader, is in the children’s choir for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Alice, like her mother, has created all her life.

“I’ve always loved making things,” said Viscio. “When I was a kid, I was always designing stuff.”

Her aunt, an art teacher, sent packages with art supplies. “My mom always had the sewing machine out so I could sew,” said Viscio.

Still, after graduating from high school, Viscio planned to study math and science at Hudson Valley Community College. One drawing class changed that. “I loved being in the studio. I loved the people there,” said Viscio.

She switched to fine arts and went on to study at The College of Saint Rose.

“After I got married and had kids, I stopped working and stayed home,” said Viscio. Her daughter frequently joins her in her home studio, working alongside her mother and her son, too, is artistic, says Viscio.

Viscio started offering free programs for kids, volunteering at the school and eventually developed programs for the Voorheesville Public Library.

One of them was having kids build miniature homes for tiny model pets they adopted. “Two big passions in my life are saving animals and miniatures ….,” said Viscio. “I love tiny things.”

During the pandemic, she made YouTube videos that kids could follow with materials in kits they picked up at the library. One project was building fairy homes as Viscio told them about The Borrowers — a family of tiny people who live in the walls of a house, rather like mice, and borrow things from the big people to survive. Mary Norton wrote the fantasy novels about The Borrowers.

“I just always loved looking at the photos that were on the book covers of the cute little things in their house,” said Viscio.

She also got kids away from their screens to gather treasures from nature and press them into plaster to make white tiles that “captured the most tiny details.”

“Some of the kids sent me photos because I wasn't able to be with them in person,” she said.

Viscio has an artist’s blog, Studio House, where she describes her projects.

She gets inspiration from other artists and from the world around her. “But I really try to make every project that I do with kids my own, that make it unique to what I can offer.”

Viscio also chairs the folk arts division at the Heldeberg Workshop each summer.

Describing it as “an adventure in learning,” Viscio explains that professionals teach classes “you really can’t get at a normal summer camp.”

The workshop is located at the base of the Helderberg escarpment off of Picard Road. “When I first stepped on the land, I was like, ‘Wow, this place is magical …,’” said Viscio. “It’s very much getting kids connected to nature and discovering these talents that maybe they’ve never had a chance to try.”

As well as exploring nature, children can learn folk arts — nearly lost skills — like blacksmithing or hand-sewing, crocheting or weaving.

A through line in Viscio’s life is valuing original creations — like Joseph’s coat. Along the way, she inspires others as her projects bring people together, even if it’s through YouTube during a pandemic.

Of this weekend’s musical, Viscio says, “You just have to see it in person. It’s beautiful. It is a work of art on stage.”

****

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will be performed at the Lydia C. Tobler Performing Arts Center, located at the Clayton A. Bouton High School at 432 New Salem Road in New Scotland. Performances are on Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18, at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, March 19, at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for students, and are free for senior citizens. They may be purchased at the door with cash or check up to two-and-a-half hours before each performance. Make checks payable to: The Voorheesville Dionysians. Additional donations are welcome.

The show is directed by Desiree Chappelle Streeter and produced by Kerry Martinez with musical direction by Jake Purington, who are all faculty members.

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