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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Setting the stage for success

Julianne D’Errico uses her skills to sew, paint and design the set

Julianne D’Errico is a lot of things: a star student; a featured artist; a Greenworm sister; a soon-to-be graduate, and, as of last summer, a working professional. D’Errico, a 22-year-old senior BFA Theatre Design and Technology major, signed on last year as a summer crafts artisan of the Glimmerglass Festival, one of the leading repertory opera theatre companies in the country.

While this was a very impressive feat for the then 21-year-old from Medina, Ohio, she wasn’t finished. After graduating Otterbein this May, D’Errico will return to Glimmerglass for the summer as a full-time contracted crafts artistan, before starting graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall.

This summer, D’Errico will be returning to Glimmerglass Festival, which is housed annually in Cooperstown, New York. After leaving near the end of May for a 12-week contract, she will be one of three artisans working full time for the company. While at Glimmerglass, D’Errico does what she refers to as “detail work” on costumes and accessories.

Last year, Julianne applied to Glimmerglass as an intern in order to receive her required internship credit to complete her BFA degree. When she arrived, she was surprised to learn that she had actually been hired on not as an intern, but as a fully contracted employee.
“I thought I was just going to be some intern, but then I got there. They were like, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re a staff member,’” said D’Errico, climbing onto a ladder on the Fristche stage in Cowan Hall. “I said, ‘Um, okay!’ and that was that.”

This year, she said she will be in a very similar situation, but she won’t be doing it for school credit.

“This will just be my job,” said D’Errico, while painting a mailroom wall for the upcoming Otterbein musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. “I have a contract and everything.”

She expects her work this summer will be similar to what she did for last year’s season.

“Last year, I worked in their craft shop. I did hats, shoes, accessories. I did a lot of dying and painting. I altered shoes and stuff for all four Glimmerglass shows.”

D’Errico’s work at Glimmerglass last summer helped her tackle an experience not often granted to students at Otterbein: the chance to fully design a main-stage production for the theatre department. D’Errico was granted creative control of costume design for this past fall’s production of Spring Awakening, for which she says that her summer experience played a large role.

“I found out in May of 2012 that I was doing Spring Awakening,” said D’Errico. “They rarely give a full production-design position to a student. You really have to earn it and prove yourself.”
The senior, who also has a fine art minor and often serves as a charge artist in the Otterbein scene shop, said that she knew from her acceptance to Otterbein that she wanted to charge a full show by the time she graduated.

“I made it one of my goals,” said D’Errico as she started to reminisce on her career at Otterbein. “I knew when I toured my senior year with Dr. Stefano, the chair of the Department, and he said, ‘You may get the chance to head a show your senior year, but we only let very select students do that,’ and I said, ‘Well, I am going to do that.’”

On the way there, she said that she learned some valuable lessons at Otterbein to help her not only with her position in Spring Awakening, but also at Glimmerglass.

“I learned really fast how to juggle my time while at Otterbein,” said D’Errico, who in addition to her heavy course load is also a member of the Tau Epsilon Mu, sorority at Otterbein. “Theatre classes, non-theatre classes, social life… I really learned how to be efficient and prioritize my time.”

D’Errico said that her experiences last summer helped bring new knowledge to her Otterbein commitments as well.

“When I came back from Glimmerglass I could personally make all the hats for Spring Awakening,” said D’Errico. “I painted shoes to how I wanted them to look based on my own designs. I added each stud to all of the male characters shoes. All of the craft work that I did on Spring Awakening, I wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t gone to Glimmerglass first.”

After spending May through July at Glimmerglass, D’Errico will return to school, this time at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. At CMU, D’Errico will be studying towards her Masters of Fine Arts. CMU is recognized by multiple publications, including US News and World Report, as having one of the top three theatre programs in the nation.

“The application process to CMU was really intense,” said D’Errico. “I had to put together a full portfolio of all my work, organize everything­ — cover letter, transcripts, the whole thing — and send it in. After that, I was asked to come on-campus for a personal interview with the entire design faculty and the department head. They reviewed my portfolio and asked a lot of critical thinking questions. I went home, and the next day they called me and offered me a spot.”

After Carnegie Mellon, she said that costume design in general is her main focus.

“I want to work in theatre. Or music videos. Or movies,” she said, wiping her some paint off of her fingers onto a rag. “’The skies the limit,’ you know? That sort of thing.”

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