Ask most audiences to name the most important people in a theatre, and you’ll probably hear the names of the artistic and executive directors, their favorite actors, maybe a few other very visible staff members. But ask an actor who the most important people are to them, and if they’re being honest, they’ll probably start with the company management team. These are the people who arrange for housing and transportation for visiting artists, who help them take care of all of their daily, sometimes mundane, needs. Company management makes a visiting artist feel at home – away from home. If artists don’t feel well taken care of while they’re in town, they can’t dedicate all of their energy to creating the productions we all enjoy seeing onstage – so company managers are a vital, often unsung, part of the theatrical process. So today, I give you… 20 Questions for Julie Madonia!
JW: Give us your basic details – who are you, where are you from, etc.
I grew up in Hamburg NY with my parents and two older sisters. Went to Immaculata Academy High School and then to Nazareth College. I started at Geva in 1995 as a Stage Management Apprentice, and in 2004 started as Company Manager. I have two kids – Michael and Lillian, and my husband, Derek, is the Master Electrician here at Geva.
JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?
I know I saw plays before this, but the earliest one that sticks in my mind was PT Barnum at St. Francis High School (my oldest sister was in it). I can still see the guy who played Barnum singing “There is a sucker born every minute…”
JW: Where did you go to school? Did you study theatre?
I went to Nazareth College of Rochester and studied Theatre with a minor in Business.
JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?
My Mom always tried to take me to see professional theatre growing up, and I was always amazed and intrigued at what I saw. Each time I saw a show it renewed my interest in pursuing theatre professionally.
JW: What would you say is the best part of your job?
Meeting new people all the time and SHOPPING!!
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 would have to say my two biggest mentors – Frank Cavallo (current Geva Stage Manager) and Charles Varin (former Geva SM, currently the Managing Director at Denver Center). They were (and still are) amazing teachers.
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…)
I think I’d like to work in the Costume Shop or Prop Shop – making cool costumes or props (good thing talent is not required for the is role because I can’t sew and I don’t really know how to make furniture).
JW: I’m with you there – when I was in college, I was banned from the costume shop because I kept breaking machines…c’est la vie…When people ask you to describe Rochester, what do you say?
A place full of history and fun things to do. What other city is there a festival pretty much every weekend in the spring/summer?
JW: What’s your favorite Rochester-area attraction?
Probably Seabreeze Amusement Park – the Jack Rabbit is AWESOME!!
JW: If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring a playwright with you (I know – that’s sort of random, isn’t it?), who would you bring?
Probably Neil Simon – I would need someone to make me laugh.
JW: Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?
I’ve never been anywhere in Europe – I keep hoping I win the lottery so I can go on an extended vacation and see all of Europe.
JW: Ah, I practice that method of vacation planning too…but the $50 scratch-off ticket didn’t get me very far…What books are on your nightstand right now?
My sister just loaned me the Wicked”series. I had started Game of Thrones but wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of reading all those books and then having to wait for another book to come out (I hate waiting – I need to know what happens!).
JW: What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
The 39 Steps.
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?
Definitely a cat person – we have a “tuxedo” cat named Finley.
JW: What person from history most interests you?
Wow – that’s a hard one. There’s more than one, but I’ll say Susan B. Anthony. I worked at the Susan B. Anthony House for a few years and was always fascinated by finding out new things about her.
JW: Our first production of the 2013-2014 season features pie – what’s your favorite kind?
JW: If you were going to take a road trip, and could only bring three people with you, who would you bring?
My oldest sister, her husband, and my husband. I recently went on a road trip with my sister and her husband, driving from Ft. Morgan, CO to Phoenix, AZ and had an absolute blast! (Sorry Michael and Lillian!)
JW: Imagine you are placing an order at a restaurant, and they ask your name for the order. You don’t give them your real name. What name do you give?
JW: I feel like there’s a story behind that name…What would we find in the backseat of your car?
Lots of crumbs, a booster seat and a container for the kids’ garbage.