In Walden, Henry David Thoreau claimed, “I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” I imagine that Geva’s wardrobe manager, Ana Maria Vallejo might appreciate this sentiment, and here’s why. You know when an actress has on a gorgeous, complicated looking dress in one scene, then she goes offstage and comes back on moments later in another gorgeous, complicated looking dress? Do you know how that happens? I like to think of it as magic, and if it is, then the magician is Ana Maria Vallejo, and the folks who work with her. See, Ana knows, down to the last second, how long the actress has to make that change, and she figures out how to make it happen. Her job would be much simpler if actors could just wear the same thing for each scene – although I suspect she’d find it far less interesting…
20 Questions for Ana Maria Vallejo
JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?
Not counting The Solar System! by my 1st grade class? I saw a production of The Secret Garden at Hofstra University in 5th or 6th grade with my school.
JW: Ah, the solar system. Please tell me you were a planet in this play? Where did you go to school? Did you study theatre?
I went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where I received a BFA in Theater. My major concentration was Scenic Design with a minor concentration in Costume Design.
JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?
Destiny is a strong word. Of my own free will I decided that solitary endeavors only encouraged my hermit-like tendencies, and I would be happiest participating in a collaborative art form. This realization came the summer between my junior and senior years of high school during an 8-week painting/drawing intensive at Skidmore College.
JW: What would you say is the best part of your job?
There is the part of my job that is managing budgets and schedules, which can be an engaging challenge, and the part of my job that is the zen-like mode of styling wigs – creating curls, breaking them down, sculpting them into waves and rolls…but my favorite part is that I get to meet and work with such great people. I get to work with a very dedicated group of people back stage, in the costume shop, and every 4 to 5 weeks I get to work with a new group of actors and designers, just to liven it up.
JW: Tell us about a favorite project.
I’ll tell you about a recent project – many projects are favorites at the time of doing them. We have reorganized jewelry storage in the costume shop by making hanging jewelry holders (instead of the drawers of spaghetti formerly known as necklace storage). It satisfies my OCD tendencies to see all the necklaces color coded and hanging in rows.
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…)
JW: What’s your favorite Rochester-area attraction?
Every time I have people visit we go to the public market. It is such an amazing place and I am always up for an empanada.
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?
Tennessee Williams would probably be down with some Mai Tai’s.
JW: Well, I guess it’s a good thing this desert island has a bar too then, isn’t it? Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?
The Jello Museum in LeRoy. I still haven’t been there. Or Istanbul. Either would be cool.
JW: Somehow, I imagine that LeRoy might be a little easier to get to from here…What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
The 39 Steps is going to an exciting challenge, and I’m betting it is going to be pretty hilarious, which is always a plus.
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?
I have an 18 pound Maine coon cat.
JW: Our first production of the 2013-2014 season features pie – what’s your favorite kind?
JW: What would we find in the backseat of your car?
Nothing! Car clutter makes me batty. It has been so much better since my spouse and I got a second vehicle.