Townsend, who plays Joseph

Coat years in the making

by Mike Isle

It has been, its maker estimates, 20 years in the making before it appears in next month’s Centrestage Rolleston’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

What is truly amazing is that Barry Tomkinson is not talking of the show, but of the coat, which decades ago he started to fashion out of two old hand-knitted jumpers that he Swiss-darned, added fabric wedges and finally lined with a black iron-on interface.

Mr Tomkinson said he could estimate the years it took but has lost track of the hours. “There would have been a lot of downtime during that period. As far as hours go, I wouldn’t like to guess, but there would have been many.”

Mr Tomkinson said he used as inspiration for the coat programme photos from the West End production of the show in the early 90s. He also saw that production and was immediately taken by the coat, which he thought was, and later used as, a great costume for a fancy-dress party.

“The coat is based on the ‘coat of many colours’ story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis.

The colours allow the wearer to stand out. I think it was used as a symbol of grandeur and glory.

Where possible, I have tried to match the colours from the 1990s’ production — although some had to be just what I had available.” In the Centrestage production, the coat is worn by Richard Townsend, who plays the lead role of Joseph.

Barry Tomkinson also appears in the show — alongside his coat — in the role of Simeon, one of Joseph’s older brothers.

The Centrestage production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens November 15 in the Rolleston Primary School Hall. Tickets are on sale now at centrestagerolleston.org.nz.