BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston senior Alyssa Megson, an accomplished designer and seamstress, was tasked with creating the "coat of many colors" for the Gov. Livingston Hilltop Players musical production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," currently in rehearsals.
Megson, along with her assistant and friend Amanda Skidmore, accepted the project, and through their vision, creativity and skill, they magically completed the task in time for opening night.
It goes to the philosophy behind Gov. Livingston theater productions to involve students in leadership roles -- with set design, crew, as well as the technical side of lighting, video and sound. So, it's not surprising that students are also helping with costume design and quick sewing alterations.
Megson has helped Carrie Needham, Hilltop Players' long-time costume designer and owner of The Scripted Stitch, with the past two productions. "Alyssa was my costume helper back stage," said Needham. "She would make sure the costume changes went fast. We would choreograph it ahead of time. If there was little hand sewing or something to be fixed back stage she would do it."
With two plays under her belt, Megson was comfortable with taking on a larger seamstress role and agreed to create the "technicolor dreamcoat."
"As I got better at sewing, I became more confident and wanted to get involved," said Megson.
Megson has been machine sewing since 9 years old, taking lessons at Fabricland in North Plainfield. As a student of Fabricland, she has participated in Project Fabricland, a sewing class/competition and fashion show for kids based on the popular TV series Project Runway. Cast members from the TV show have appeared at the fashion show as special guests.
Megson received top prize for original design last year with her magical fairy tale inspired Aladdin concoction. She was the only student to draft an original pattern and design from the story. She used her imagination to design a jewel toned piece. She has already begun to design this year's Project Fabricland entries. She chose to design a diva themed jumpsuit and jacket representing the style of Lady Gaga before and after Tony Bennett.
In designing the dreamcoat for GL's production, Megson and Skidmore first selected the fabric. "We wanted colorful," said Megson. Skidmore added, "There is a 20 foot rule -- so we knew that it had to look good from 20 feet away." Knowing the dark colors on the black background would sustain the bright lights of the stage, they also knew the fabric choice would produce the "technicolor" effect they were looking for.
Next came the design. With Skidmore's sketching abilities and Megson's design expertise, they drafted their ideas to paper, wrapping paper that is, to test their design and create a pattern.
Megson, who will attend college next year to major in chemical engineering, put her math skills to work in the art of design. "There is a lot of math involved in sewing," said Megson. "We discovered that when designing the coat." Adding, "I drafted the whole bottom of the coat. I made a pattern out of wrapping paper. It is a great process. There is nothing right or wrong -- you just have to make it look good."
The skirt is made up of pleats of strategically colored triangles. Joseph, played by veteran actor Adam Cantor, will spin on stage and the intricacies of the dreamcoat will open up to a sea of colors.
While Megson doesn't plan to study fashion design in college, she hopes to minor in art and sewing will always be a part of her life. "What I like about sewing is that I continue to challenge myself. There is no limit -- you imagine it, you can create it," said Megson.
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," with a cast of over 50 students, opens Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. with shows Friday, March 17 at 7: 30 p.m. and Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Ken Stiefel Theatre in Davis Hall at Gov. Livingston High School located at 175 Watchung Blvd, Berkeley Heights. For Tickets click here or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Adults: $15 Students/Seniors: $12