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In Conversation: Legends of The Costume Shop

In Conversation: Legends of The Costume Shop

To mark this new chapter at The Huntington, we asked our three longest-serving employees – Costume Crafts Artisan Denice Wallace, Assistant Director of Costumes Virginia Emerson, and Head Draper Anita Canzian – to sit down for a conversation with our newest employee, Christopher Mannelli. 

Anita Canzian: First of all, welcome to the costume shop and the costume department. We can’t wait to have you here in person. You’ve been in and out of Boston, but 264 (Huntington), we’re a whole other universe here. We are an arm of the operation. So, first up, when did you realize the arts were a job? When did you realize you could do the arts as a job?Christopher Mannelli: I think I came to that realization in high school that it was a thing I wanted to do as a career, though not necessarily on the track I’m on now.Anita Canzian: What did you see for yourself?Christopher Mannelli: I wanted to be an actor and a musician. I was a singer and played lots of instruments. So that was where I wanted to go. When I went to college, my parents encouraged me not to put all my eggs in that performance basket, and I started studying music education. In the end, I didn’t actually get my degree in that. I switched over to performance because I was stubborn.Anita Canzian: What did your parents do? Presumably, they were not artisans or not coming from a career in the arts already?Christopher Mannelli: No, not not at all. I am the odd duck in the family. My family was not involved in the arts in any way, shape, or form. My dad ran the family business, my grandfather’s business; a mattress store and upholstery shop. It was the One-Stop Sleep Shop, which started in Northport, New York. And then my dad expanded that store and had a couple of different stores, did upholstery work. All through high school, I would go work in the upholstery shop and deliver mattresses. I have lots of skills for carrying large mattresses; most people don’t have that skill.Christopher Mannelli: So that was the family business. You know, I was pretty lucky. I think, for my dad, he didn’t really have a choice going into that family business. He was expected, and I think he was pretty clear that he didn’t want me to feel like I had to do that, which was great, which was actually a pretty big gift.Denise Wallace: That’s a blessing.Anita Canzian: So you started in music?Christopher Mannelli: Yeah, I started in music. I started from as long back as I can remember, I was always singing. You know, there’s a creepy, famous story of me from a family wedding when I was three years old. Apparently, I went up on stage; there was an eight-millimeter video of this somewhere. But who knows?Christopher Mannelli: I went up on stage with the band, and I sang. It was a favorite story of my mom’s. Then, as soon as I was able to play an instrument in elementary school, I started playing trumpet. In junior high, I started playing bass in the orchestra as well, kept picking up different instruments, and always sang in the choirs. So that was definitely a strong, strong influence. Theater also became an influence when I started having the opportunity to audition for shows, doing that in junior high and high school, and then finally decided that that’s where I wanted to go when I went to college.Anita Canzian: So your BA is in opera?Christopher Mannelli: Vocal performance. Yeah, I studied opera.Anita Canzian: What, tenor?Christopher Mannelli: I was a tenor, and I was also a countertenor.Christopher Mannelli: I don’t know if I can still do it now, it’s been a long time.Denise Wallace: Wow. So when did it change from countertenor down?Christopher Mannelli: So, I actually started as a tenor. Then, it was during the time when I was going to undergrad. It became a big thing. There are lots of famous countertenors happening.Christopher Mannelli: And I started doing a lot of early music.Christopher Mannelli: It was cool. It was fun. But then I decided, when I finished up my undergrad, I had friends that went on and started doing grad programs. But I wasn’t really willing to wait the next ten years before my voice fully settled in and I could do stuff.Christopher Mannelli: I also love doing musical theater. I love performing in that way too. I didn’t quite have the same feeling for opera, even though I love the music. I felt a little more drawn to the stage in that way, not on an opera path. So, I switched gears a little bit.Denise Wallace: So when you were performing, you know, we’re from costumes, so I’d like to know about your favorite costume you ever wore and why.Christopher Mannelli: Oh, my gosh. Oh, I just took the rendering home last night.Denise Wallace: You’ve been packing your office.Christopher Mannelli: I have been packing my office but I know there are photos which I’m sure someone will track down.Christopher Mannelli: After undergrad, when I started actually performing professionally. It’s one of the weird sort of circular things in my life. My first couple of professional jobs were here at Geva, where I am now as the Executive Director. This is a long time ago, over 20 years ago now. One of the shows that I got to perform in when I was performing here, they opened a second space that had been a rehearsal room, they turned it into a little theater, and they started doing programming, which they called at that time Big Theater for Little People. It was really great programming for young audiences. One of the shows they did was The Portrait The Wind The Chair, which is not a show that people will necessarily know, but it’s this beautiful show about these two sisters dealing with some death in the family. They go on these magical adventures. There’s this big opulent chair that sits in their living room, and in the second half of the show, the chair becomes The Chairman. And so I was the Chairman. They had this incredible costume that I sort of lived in, and it had this flip-out stool that so when they traded me out in the second act, all you saw was my face. And the rest of me looked exactly like this beautiful, upholstered chair. But then I could come to life and move around. I just took the costume rendering home because when I came here, one of the folks still had the costume rendering, and they were like, “Hey, this is from the show that you did like 20-something years ago.”Denise Wallace: That is awesome. One of my favorite costumes I ever built was a ham for To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m all about that inanimate object costume.Christopher Mannelli: Yeah. It was just a spectacular costume. We’ll find pictures of it.Anita Canzian: And then you seemed to tour internationally as a musician. Was this with trumpet?Christopher Mannelli: No, I toured mostly nationally, though I did a little international touring too. After I was done here in Rochester, I went to Saint Louis, and I worked for another touring children’s theater called Metro Theater Company, which is a really small company. We went all around the country and did some work overseas; we were in Taiwan for a tour. In that company, I was an actor, and I was also the Music Director for that company. So, lots of different instruments that I was working with in that one, and did that for about three years, touring around. Until, you know, life in the 15-passenger van became not exactly what I wanted to do.Anita Canzian: Is this when you decided to transition to arts management?Christopher Mannelli: Yeah, it is. I got offered a role with another theater company in Saint Louis, to be their Education Director, which was great. I joined that company at an interesting time when they were merging with another theatre. They were two small companies. They decide to merge. The idea was, when we merge, it’s going to be great, and everything’s going to be totally better, and we’ll have so many more hands to do all the work. Then that [merger] happened, and it went kind of the opposite way. Things got really challenging really quickly, and the company got into some trouble, and some debt, and the board actually decided to let most of the management go. But I had started as the Education Director, and the Education Department was doing pretty well. Be careful what you wish for, right? So they [the board] came to me, and they said, we have two choices here. We’re either going to close down the company. Or, if you want to try to save it, you can give it a shot.Christopher Mannelli: So I was like, okay, well, sure, I don’t know what I’m doing, but sure. I was young enough still that I was like, I can do anything, right? It’s fine. And I also liked having a job. I was like, that’s my job, I want to kind of keep that. So, that’s how I got my first managing position. I started doing it and I found out I’m actually kind of enjoying this, and I’m not bad at it.Christopher Mannelli: I kept that ship afloat. I got the company out of debt, got it back on its feet, and it was actually starting to do what it was supposed to. And just when it was starting to get to be fun again, my wife got a job up in Chicago, and we made the decision to go up to Chicago then.Anita Canzian: Too bad there’s no theater up there, right?Christopher Mannelli: There’s nothing to do in Chicago.Denise Wallace: What does your wife do?Christopher Mannelli: She is in marketing communications, but she’s always been connected to the arts. We actually met in Saint Louis. She was the Marketing Director at that small children’s theatre. That’s how we met.Virginia Emerson: Interesting. And then that’s how I met my husband.Christopher Mannelli: Oh, really?Virginia Emerson: In the hall.Anita Canzian: And he’s still here.Virginia Emerson: He’s the sound supervisor.Christopher Mannelli: Oh, fantastic.Virginia Emerson: The Production Manager’s office was on one side of the costume shop, and his office was way over in the other building in the basement. And so I would be going over there to go to stock because stock was in multiple rooms. And so we would pass each other in the hallway all the time. How are you doing? How’d that meeting go? And then finally, we started dating. Well, we got to know each other during Dialogue of the Carmelites while we were sitting there in tech.Denise Wallace: Nothing like a good beheading.Virginia Emerson: Then we started dating, and now we’ve been married for 23 years, and we have a 21-year-old son who’s at Mass Art.Christopher Mannelli: Oh, fantastic.Virginia Emerson: And now we’re looking forward to retiring.Denise Wallace: Oh, now don’t retire before Chris gets here.Christopher Mannelli: I know, come on.Virginia Emerson: You know that health insurance thing.Anita Canzian: It’s real interesting, and I think exciting for all of us that you’re coming from a backstage as well as a front stage perspective. So the costume shop gals have got to know, are you a tech week snacker? And if so…Virginia Emerson: What’s your favorite tech week snack?Anita Canzian: What’s your go-to?Christopher Mannelli: I’m not really a tech week snacker.Denise Wallace: We’re snackers here in the costume shop, let me tell you.Christopher Mannelli: That doesn’t mean that I don’t like to snack, don’t get me wrong. And I’ve now unfortunately created a bunch of children that are also snackers that now we can’t keep any sort of chips in the house for more than two days.Anita Canzian: Same with the costume shop.Christopher Mannelli: But my favorite snack are salt and vinegar chips. Those are my favorite snacks.Anita Canzian: Yeah, I would say here it’s Cheetos. It’s astonishing how many Cheetos we eat. And what’s really astonishing is that we somehow don’t get Cheeto dirt on the costumes.Christopher Mannelli: I was going to say that’s a dangerous snack for a costume shop.Denise Wallace: It is.Denise Wallace: Virginia has an excellent question for you.Virginia Emerson: Our next question is, have you ever met any theater ghosts? And do you believe in ghosts? Because, you know, we got a lot here.Anita Canzian: And we love them madly, they are actual theater ghosts. They’re theatricals. Definitely.Christopher Mannelli: I want to hear all about the theater ghosts. We apparently do have a theater ghost here at Geva. I’ve never experienced the theater ghost here at Geva. I don’t know if I totally believe, but I do like the tradition of the theater ghosts, and I do like that they sort of keep the theater, though it seems strange to say, they keep the theatre alive. But the theatre is alive all the time, right? It’s kind of great.Denise Wallace: Yeah. I love the Ghost Light tradition, too. Just so sweet.Christopher Mannelli: So tell me about the theater ghosts, I want to know about the theater ghosts here.Virginia Emerson: Well, our main ghost is Henry Jewett, who is the man who started the Boston Repertory Theater and built the building.Anita Canzian: He was one of the last great actor impresario managers of the American stage. So we’re really fortunate to be in this building and in this location, which was built for theater.Virginia Emerson: We have his portrait out in the main stairwell.Christopher Mannelli: I’ve seen his portrait.Virginia Emerson: He has been known to cause trouble. He will make things happen if, say, one of the light bulbs in his light is not on, if the light goes out, weird things will happen until somebody goes and checks his portrait. Make sure that the light is working properly.Anita Canzian: He’s not fond of vulgarity on the stage. Also, his most famous role was in the Scottish play. So when we did that, we had our fair share of theater awesomeness. But more importantly, when the building was being renovated, we were all pretty concerned about this, including and especially scenery. He had a special box made for him, with a light, which was checked constantly, even during the pandemic, because we were shut. We gave him his own ghost light in storage and checked up on him.Denise Wallace: Our scene shop is excellent.Virginia Emerson: During an earlier short renovation, when they were repainting the lobby, they took his painting down, and they weren’t as careful about it. There were accidents on stage, problems with the scissor lift that they had never had before. Somebody, you know, slipping or twisting their ankle and all sorts of little things like that really never happened much before. When his portrait got put back up and the light was on, then everything was fine, and everything worked perfectly. All of us backstage were like, good, let’s remember this. If he ever has to come off the wall, he still needs a light. So keep that in mind because you don’t want to be the one who sprains your ankle because there was a patch of water on the floor that you didn’t see or something. Not risking it.Christopher Mannelli: This is good to know.Anita Canzian: Fun fact, when we were doing the building renovations, Kat Herzig, who is overseeing it – of course, lights were on in ways that lights had never been on and things were opened up. Above the house left box seats, we have two sets of box seats, house left and house right. House left still had Henry and Mrs. Jewett, that was their box. The other box still had the original gold lettering for State Box. We had all worked here for years, including Kat, and none of us knew that was there, we didn’t notice it because it’s always so dark up there.Anita Canzian: So when there was the [Name A Seat campeign].Virginia Emerson: We got together and bought a seat.Anita Canzian: In the Henry Jewett box, of course.Virginia Emerson: Which was kind of, oh no, because the chairs in the boxes are not the same as the ones in the rest of the house. You can move them around. The arms are skinnier, so they had to have our plaque specially made to fit on them.Denise Wallace: Too many words.Anita Canzian: Which basically says our names and 128 years in the costume shop and counting.Virginia Emerson: Back to Henry, a former BU production manager. Really, seriously saw Henry in the hallway one time. He doesn’t like to talk about it, but he has mentioned it to us. He was at one end of the hall and was coming down the hall back to his office and down at the far end, in front of the window, he [Henry] was just there – in the costume that he wears in the portrait. And then he scooted out the door, disappeared or something. I don’t think he even bothered going to his office. He just turned around and went home.Anita Canzian: Those are just two of many.Virginia Emerson: And many other ghosts, too.Anita Canzian: They’re all theatricals. It’s kind of interesting.Virginia Emerson: A piano player, a song and dance gal named Gloria. Leo’s the piano player.Anita Canzian: There was a sentry in front of wardrobe that would pace back and forth at night while they were doing their last loads of laundry. We don’t need to spend more time on this. Maybe when you come and visit us, we can have snacks or something. Salt and vinegar chips.Christopher Mannelli: We will have the salt vinegar chips and we can talk more about this.Denise Wallace: What are you looking forward to seeing and doing in Boston when you get here? Non-theater related.Christopher Mannelli: There’s so much to do. And the thrilling thing is, because I haven’t spent a ton of time in Boston, I’ve got everything to explore. But certainly, there’s such history in the city, and to really start to dig into that. I love history, it was always a favorite subject in school for me, I like to read about different time periods. So it’s going to be exciting to do that and to do that with my kids too, to have them experience it for the first time.Denise Wallace: How old are your kids now?Christopher Mannelli: My son Noah is thirteen, and my daughter Sonia is ten.Denise Wallace: Great ages for like Freedom Trail stuff.Anita Canzian: Historic houses.Virginia Emerson: Museum of Science.Anita Canzian: Museum of Fine Arts.Christopher Mannelli: I can’t wait to do that. I can’t wait to visit the other arts and cultural institutions around the city, that’s so rich. I’m looking forward to getting out, to being on the coast again, to being near water in that way. That’s how I grew up, closer to the ocean. So that’s pretty exciting. But also from what I’ve talked to folks is that there’s lots of other places – I can get to the mountains really quick, too. We like to get out in nature and do as much as we can. It’s going to take years to get to all of it.Denise Wallace: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and there are mountains in Massachusetts. There’s lots of outdoor stuff to do.Christopher Mannelli: I’m looking forward to all that. I’m looking forward to finding new places to eat. We’ve built a good culture around food in our family where our kids are good, adventurous eaters. They like to take that risk. We were out to Indian food last night with my son because that’s his favorite. So, I’m looking forward to getting to know different places to explore around the city where there might be good food. That’s going to be fun. And also looking forward, I’m going to be in closer proximity to my family again, which is going to be nice.Denise Wallace: Where is your family?Christopher Mannelli: They’re on Long Island. That’s a lot closer than I’ve been since I went away to school when I was 18 years old. So that’ll be really nice.Anita Canzian: That’s awesome, but you realize you’re straying into some very tricky territory now – because we are Red Sox fans, sir.Christopher Mannelli: This is okay. I have a long, complicated baseball history. I will state for the record, I am not a Yankees fan.Denise Wallace: You can come here now.Christopher Mannelli: Yeah, never have been and won’t be. My family, growing up, were Mets fans.Christopher Mannelli: Then we lived in Saint Louis, and the Cardinals were really big when we were living in Saint Louis. So we kind of like the Cardinals. And then we went to Chicago, and Rita’s family is White Sox fans, so we had to be. There are a lot of teams that I can root for.Denise Wallace: Well, we’ll have to invite you to our annual costume shop Truck Day adventure. Have you heard about Truck Day?Christopher Mannelli: No. Tell me more.Denise Wallace: It’s the day when they pack the equipment truck.Anita Canzian: Only in Boston.Denise Wallace: For the Red Sox, and they send it down to Florida. But it comes right past Huntington AV.Anita Canzian: It’s like a parade, like a Mardi Gras thing.Denise Wallace: It’s a one-truck parade.Anita Canzian: Well, yeah, but they’re throwing stuff off the back.Virginia Emerson: There’s usually two. There’s a big semi-18 Wheeler. Then there’s some other vehicle where they’re throwing these squishy baseballs, and they have the guy who’s dressed up in the Wally costume. So this past year, it was freaking cold. It was crazy cold. So they actually canceled most of it, and they only had people who were at Fenway. So we’re on the street corner waiting for this truck to go by, and the truck goes by, and we’re like, wait a minute, that says Red Sox.Anita Canzian: And so we were like, where are stuffed Wallys? Where are the beads? Where are the squishy balls?Virginia Emerson: So I actually sent an email and complained and said, we are out there freezing our butts off, waiting for our squishy balls. So they apologized and sent me a box of squishy balls that I could give out to all the people who were standing on the corner with me.Christopher Mannelli: That’s fantastic. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing a Red Sox game. I really like baseball, I’ll go to lots of different games. I’m fine to do that. But I’ve never been to a game at Fenway. That’s going to be really exciting. I can’t wait to do it.Virginia Emerson: It’s a great place to see a game.Anita Canzian: One of the great things about Boston is it’s so walkable. You could walk to Fenway from 264 [Huntington Ave]. You could walk to the Museum of Fine Arts from 264 [Huntington Ave.], Symphony Hall is right across the street. You know, we’re on the Avenue of the Arts.Christopher Mannelli: I’m going to be pretty close, actually. I just found an apartment, at least for the first six months or so that I’m here. I’ve said this to a lot of people but don’t know who I’ve exactly said it to. Our kids, because they’re in fifth and eighth grade right now, they’re going to finish the school year here in Rochester. Then they’re all going to move out and join me in June after the school year ends. I’m obviously starting in November, so I just found an apartment. I’m going to be up in Back Bay. So not too far. And I’m going to walk everywhere. I’m not even going to bring my car here.Anita Canzian: So you know what Back Bay is, right?Anita Canzian: It was America’s first great landfill project. It used to be stinky fens and a bay with sluggish water that came in and out and they filled it in. The streets are alphabetical – Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, etcetera. Then all of a sudden you jump to Massachusetts [Avenue] because, at that time, the governor of Massachusetts was Governor Ames. He had bought a corner lot, so he wanted to live on the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts. Naming rights, there you have it.Christopher Mannelli: I’m really looking forward to just walking the city. It’ll be great to be in that kind of city again. Certainly, when we lived in Chicago, we walked everywhere, we took public transportation everywhere. That’s not really available here in Rochester, but I’m looking forward to having that experience again and being able to take the T, take the bus, and walk everywhere I need to go.Anita Canzian: But at least you’re coming from Rochester, so you’re well acquainted with the warm winter coat and the snow.Christopher Mannelli: The cold is fine. You’ve just got to not worry too much what you look like and just be warm.Denise Wallace: Do you have any questions about the theater company we could answer or Boston?Christopher Mannelli: Tell me some of your favorite things to do in Boston.Virginia Emerson: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.Anita Canzian: It’s beautiful, it’s just down the street. It’s very special. It’s kind of like The Barnes Collection. She was wealthy, she bought up Europe, she designed a Venetian palazzo-style building, and the art has hung there in perpetuity. You can’t break the covenant.Anita Canzian: It’s a beautiful winter garden, it’s a palazzo and in the center is a garden and the garden changes all the time.Christopher Mannelli: And that’s just down the street?Denise Wallace: Yes, it’s right behind the MFA on Huntington Ave. The MFA has a great collection, and it’s doing some good exhibits. There’s a funny little place that I love in Boston that I always encourage people to go to, and it’s just across the street from where we are, the Mapparium. Which is at the Christian Science Building, in their publishing building. It is a 50-foot handmade, stained glass globe of the earth in 1934.Anita Canzian: As a map, and you walk inside it. The colorations are beautiful, 1930 coloration. And of course, the country lines have changed. But the acoustics are amazing because when you speak, you will hear your own voice coming from behind you.Denise Wallace: Because it’s a glass globe, so it’s perfect acoustics. If somebody whispers something at one end, 50 feet away, it sounds like they’re right in your ear. It’s a really cool thing. And now they have a lovely civil rights exhibit out in front of it, in the hallway. It’s really well done. It’s a cheap take, and you can do it in a short time. It’s kind of a fun thing to do, kids usually like it, too.Christopher Mannelli: That’s great! I’m going to need those things when the kids finally get to visit, I’m going to have to show them around and show them all the fun stuff. So it’s going to be important.Anita Canzian: I’m very fond of the Boston Public Library in Copley. It was a McKim, Mead, and White building, and it too was built like a Venetian palazzo. You’re seeing where Boston’s head was in the 19th century. They have a beautiful courtyard with water, a fountain, and music. Then they have a new part where you could check things out and an old part, which is actually like a main reading hall, a Victorian reading hall with beautiful, beautiful frescoes. They give out tours because they have the only John Singer Sargent frescoes ever that he did. You look around, and there’s just a lot of art.Christopher Mannelli: Yeah, that’s fabulous.Denise Wallace: Do you have a favorite artist?Christopher Mannelli: Favorite artist? I would say, like visual artists, I love Magritte. That time period is interesting to me. But you know what? I don’t get to do as much, having that experience of art as I’d like. So, the fact that all of this is so close is pretty exciting.Denise Wallace: Yeah, there’s so much. The Harvard museums are fantastic, they’re just over the river. There’s a lot of things to do.Virginia Emerson: When you go to the MFA, I always tell people who have boys that the three paintings that are really important to see, now that they have them on display in the Americas wing, is, first of all, the shark attack painting [Watson and the Shark, John Singleton Copley]. This always piques interest. Then, very close to that is the wicked huge painting of Washington crossing The Delaware [The Passage of the Delaware, Thomas Sully]. That’s so big, they had to put the painting up before they finished building the wing. It is so big that when you look up at the top of it, the ceiling comes along, and then there’s a gutter that goes up to fit the painting. And then very close to that is what my son and I like to refer to as George Washington and his horse’s butt [Washington at Dorchester Heights, Gilbert Stuart] because it’s a very large painting of George Washington, and he has his hand on his horse, and it’s the back end of the horse. And the horse is kind of looking over his shoulder like, hey, wait a minute. Those are my three favorite paintings. The biggest one, crossing the Delaware, was not on display for probably close to a century because they didn’t have any place big enough. When they finally built the new wing, they were able to put it up. My mom was very excited by that.Anita Canzian: When you were in musicals, did you also dance, or did you just sing?Christopher Mannelli: Define dance.Denise Wallace: I don’t think we’re here to embarrass our new boss.Christopher Mannelli: No, no, it’s fine. I mean, there was choreography, which I could remember, and I did it. I would never call myself a dancer.Christopher Mannelli: So you’re a dancer?Anita Canzian: Yeah. For many years, I was a semi-professional Argentine tango dancer.Christopher Mannelli: Oh, fantastic.Anita Canzian: I’m all about singing and dancing on stage. I’m always interested when somebody else is doing it, too.Denise Wallace: I almost was on stage, but I decided auditioning for a living would be too hard. That’s what you do when you’re an actor. You just spend all your time auditioning.Christopher Mannelli: It’s really hard. It’s hard to not be able to plan or have control over what’s exactly going to happen. All of our different jobs in the theater have different challenges. But that’s a particular challenge; I have a lot of empathy for folks doing that work.Denise Wallace: Yeah. Making your way in the world and trying to have a family, it’s a lot of stressors.Christopher Mannelli: I think that’s the same with technical work, too. We have different schedules. Theater people are particular. We do a particular thing, and it’s hard when you’re not in that industry to really understand, like, why would you do that? But it’s the magic of it, right? We got to keep coming back to it.Virginia Emerson: I guess we do love it, can’t think of anything else to do. That’s what I always tell people every year when I’m unemployed in the summer and on unemployment. I’m always like, I can’t think of anything else I want. What else would I do? I don’t know. This is what I like to do. So here I am. So I keep coming back.Denise Wallace: So, what are you reading lately?Christopher Mannelli: The last two things I read were actually a couple of books that Hortensia Hinds [HR director] gave me. So they’re some books that we might use at the theater around change and what that looks like. So they were more workbooks than they were fun books. I love all kinds of books. I love historical fiction. I love dumb science fiction and fantasy books, too. Books that other people might think are like textbooks. I love learning about history, reading about history. I would say in the last couple of months, I haven’t had as much time as I would like to read. So I’m a bit out of my habit.Christopher Mannelli: There’s a little juggling of things right now. But I do love to read, and our kids like to read. It’s something that is common in our family.Anita Canzian: What’s your favorite historical period right now that you’re intrigued by mentally?Anita Canzian: I’m currently on the Hundred Years War as well as the changeover from the Pagan years to Christianity in the second-third century.Denise Wallace: I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary writings of Grecian Myths.Christopher Mannelli: Oh, that’s fabulous. The last thing that I read was a retelling of a bunch of the old Norse myths. It was really good. That’s the last of that genre that I’ve gotten to. I don’t know if I have a favorite period right now that I’m dug into. I’m sure when I land in Boston, there’s going to be some sparks that are flying for the history there. I’ll probably dig into some stuff around that.Denise Wallace: Maybe I can get my husband to take you around the Freedom Trail. He’s a Massachusetts historian.Christopher Mannelli: I’d love it. That would be fabulous.Denise Wallace: He gives a good tour.Charles Haugland: This has been fantastic. I have enjoyed so much listening to it, and I can’t wait to share it with audiences. So if nobody has anything that you’re like, Gosh, I meant to say…Anita Canzian: We’re really excited to have you join us at the Huntington. I can’t wait to see you again in person.Denise Wallace: Thanks for your time!Christopher Mannelli: Of course. This was great. It was great to get a chance to just chat with you all a little bit. I can’t wait to get there and get to work. It feels like I’ve been saying that a lot, but it’s really true. November is coming quick and I’ll see you all in person.


About the Costume Shop Team:

Denise Wallace-Spriggs is the proprietor of DWS Studio, where she specializes in millinery education, custom millinery, and theatrical crafts. She has been Costume Crafts Artisan here for over 30 years; she likes to say she started as a toddler. She teaches at Boston University.

Virginia Emerson learned to sew at the age of 6. In high school, she discovered theatre and that was that. Immediately after college, she did a brief stint at Merrimack Rep and then started working at The Huntington. She has been here ever since.