2017 ArtPrize Winner Dazzles Circle Theatre Audiences with One of a Kind Technicolor Dreamcoat

PRESS RELEASE — Circle Theatre concludes their 67th Main Stage season with the family-friendly musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opening Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. inside the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Aquinas College. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is brought to the Circle stage by Production Sponsors Centennial Securities and Warner Norcross + Judd. Artistic Sponsor, Stonecastle Dentistry. Special guest designer, renowned visual artist, and 2017 ArtPrize Installation Juried Award winner Jeffrey Augustine Songco dazzles audiences with his refreshing take on the coat of many colors. As Guest Designer, Songco joins Bill Dunckel and Kelly Lucas, the pair of co-costume Designers who have teamed up to create all of the costumes for the cast of more than 40 volunteer performers. 

Recently, Songco answered a few questions about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, how he took a refreshing look at this age-old story to design a one of a kind technicolor dreamcoat, and what drew him to this project. 

Q: What drew you to this project? Did you know the story before or were you drawn more to the project itself? 

Jeffrey: I love all aspects of the theater — from performing on stage to the behind the scenes production. When Joseph was announced, I immediately daydreamed about designing the coat. I’ve always been passionate about costume design and I’ve created costumes for my artwork, but I have yet had the opportunity to design a costume for an actual theatrical production. I thought that designing Joseph’s coat would be an awesome opportunity to dive in and create a garment that would highlight my aesthetic as an artist. 

I was in a community theater production of Joseph, 23 years ago when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey! I’m very familiar with the musical and the big scope of design choices that are needed to match each song. One song might feel like a French ballad, country, rock and roll, disco, or calypso, so for me being able to design just one element of this massive show was the perfect fit for me and my skills. 

Q: How did you approach this project with new eyes instead of taking from what others have done? 

Jeffrey: When I approach a work of art, I always start with text — writing down a word and defining or translating it. Joseph is based on a biblical story, so there’s already text written about it, but not a lot. Depending on the Bible version, the coat is described very simply as “an ornate robe,” “a long robe with sleeves,” or “a coat of many colors”. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created an entire song about the coat based on this short biblical description and they included a lengthy list of 29 colors that appear on the coat. I matched fabrics to each of those 29 colors and created my own pattern. Most importantly, I shared this pattern and my ideas with Bill Dunckel and Kelly Lucas (the main costume designers for Joseph) to make sure my choices were fitting in with the choices they were making for the huge amount of costumes in the rest of the production. The coat is a familiar costume in musical theater so there are plenty of source images to see how the coat has evolved since its debut. There are so many varied interpretations that for me, it’s not so much about getting away from what others have done in the past, but rather sticking to what I know and understand, like the text itself, and moving forward with that personal interpretation. 

Q: This project aesthetically relates to your own work – do you think there is a link between your work and the story of the coat in Joseph? 

Jeffrey: I love that the coat is a celebration of life for Jacob and Joseph, but that it also brings controversy — Joseph’s brothers become angry and jealous. I think my artwork has that same kind of controversy — a celebration and a tragedy. At ArtPrize in 2015, I exhibited at Calder Plaza with my outdoor installation, Revelry, which was created with 30,000 Mardi Gras beads on a metal fence. On the first weekend of ArtPrize, all the beads were taken by the public. Without giving away spoilers for those who don’t know the story of Joseph, I’ll just say that Revelry went through a similar fate as Joseph’s coat. 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will run Sept. 5-7, 11-14, 18-21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sep. 15 at 5:30 p.m. Under the direction of Rob Karel, this musical production tells a reimagined tale of the Biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors. It’s known as one of the most enduring shows of all time. 

Circle Theatre audience members can take advantage of the Lobby Bar at the September 6 performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Craft beer and wine s available starting at 7:00 p.m.; beverages can be enjoyed inside the theatre that night. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the box office at 616.456.6656 or visit Circle’s website circletheatre.org. 

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