Getting to Know You: 20 Questions for Geva’s Costume Shop Manager

The second in a series of posts introducing you to some of the great members of the Geva Theatre Center staff! If it weren’t for Amanda Doherty and her staff, the actors wouldn’t have a stitch to wear… And as Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little influence on society.” (Don’t you just love Mark Twain?)

Amanda and Frank

So we thank our lucky stars for Amanda! Here’s 20 Questions for Amanda Doherty:

JW: Give us your basic details…

Amanda Doherty, Geva’s costume shop manager for 12 seasons, and costume designer. Originally from the suburbs of Buffalo, NY; BA with a triple major in Drama, Studio Art and English Lit., MFA in theatre design.

JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?

My first play, I was actually in; Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (I was a dwarf at 7 yrs. old). The first professional play I saw was the Broadway tour of Annie when I was 9 or so.

JW: Where did you go to school? Did you study theatre?

Undergrad was at SUNY Potsdam where I studied Drama, studio art and English Lit. Grad school was Penn State where I got an MFA in design and technology.

JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?

This is embarrassing but completely true; the Broadway tour of Cats. Yep, Cats. I was 16 and sat 3rd row aisle, with a souvenir program, and the “cats” entered through the house. I got a close up look at the costumes and makeup and it prompted me to look in the program. I realized that there were real jobs in costuming!  And that is what I was going to do.

JW: Ah, “memories, all alone in the moonlight, la, la, la, la, la, laaaa…” (Cats was my favorite piece of theatre too for a very, very long time…) What would you say is the best part of your job?

Probably the problem solving; the creativity. Looking at renderings and figuring out how to make it all happen.

JW: Tell us about a favorite project.

There are so many, at least one a season, so it’s hard to choose!  But the Midsummer Fairies were the most recent. All the craft work and magic that went into making the wings and wigs and sparkling costumes was a huge challenge, but also thrilling. We tried new things, new products, collaborated with other departments; and the joy we got from the kids, it was all amazing.

JW: Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Which theatrical giants’ shoulders do you stand on?

I have no idea… I guess I could name some famous costume designers… But really, the people that influenced me the most were technicians like me. Laura Robinson (the most amazing draper) and Patricia Armagast (the shop manager who taught me to deal with adversity).  They may not be industry giants, but they changed my life.

JW: If you had a job in theatre that wasn’t the one you actually have, what would it be? (Talent for this role is not required…)

NOT ACTING. Probably props artisan.

JW: When people ask you to describe Rochester, what do you say?

“It’s this amazing, diverse, really artistic and really affordable little city. With awesome family run restaurants.”

JW: What’s your favorite Rochester-area attraction?

The lake. I grew up on Erie so being on the Great Lakes means a lot to me.

JW: Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?

In Rochester, or the world?  In Rochester, believe it or not, I haven’t been to the Strong Museum yet. I don’t have kids so I feel weird going without…

In the world, I’m dying to visit my cousin in Thailand… The Golden Triangle looks amazing.

JW: What books are on your nightstand right now?

Cast On, Bind Off; The Grateful Life and Tea with Jane Austen.

JW: What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?

Probably problem solving on The 39 Steps. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride!

JW: There’s been a rash of kitten and puppy adoption amongst the Geva staff this summer. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Well I have dogs, hounds…Bumpus hounds. But I have no problems with cats, they are also lovely, but my dogs want to eat them.

JW: Our first production of the 2013-2014 season features pie – what’s your favorite kind?

Fall/Winter: Pumpkin, Spring/Summer: Blueberry.

JW: What would we find in the backseat of your car?

Ha!  Nothing!  I have to keep it presentable because I’m constantly driving designers around shopping.

For more from Amanda, check out this video on the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle website, where Amanda is interviewed about Geva’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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