Today’s interview is with Theresa Lobel, Head of Wardrobe for St Louis Opera (and one of the calmest women I’ve ever met! She’s pictured here- back left- with the Wardrobe Crew for The Grapes of Wrath at OTSL.)
Theresa Berenato-Loebl started her theatrical career as a dancer. She majored in dance at UMKC and danced, briefly, in the corps de ballet for Kansas City Ballet. She also danced for Lexington Ballet and Fort Worth City Ballet. Upon her return to St. Louis, she danced for Burning Feet Dance and MADCO. After getting married and starting a family she worked in costume construction and interior and set decorating. She segued to health care after the life of her son and after 15 years in nursing came back to theatre. She is currently the Head of Wardrobe for Opera Theatre St. Louis, The Rep’s Studio series, Union Avenue Opera and works with several local companies.
Q: What was your first theatre experience?
A: My first THEATRE experience was when I was 3 in a dance recital. I was a bumble bee. I danced professionally until I was 30. Then I started having kids and gaining weight and loosing rehearsal time… you know, life. I actually worked as a designer/ decorator for a few years until we had our son in1996. During his 5 month life in ICU we discovered that I have a natural knack for health care. Probably what made dance such a natural theatre/physical health thing. I worked as a nurse’s assistant and home health/home hospice aid for about 15 years then came back to production (or backstage) about 4 years ago.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: Best piece of career advice ANYONE has ever given me? “Don’t take ANYTHING personally unless they say too.” (from a Boss in a retail industry). It really makes a difference. LIVE IT. It can be REALLY hard to NOT take BS personally, especially for on-stage crap like being “too fat” when you weigh 125lbs. Or being able to do technical things better than the girl with the perfect feet and legs next to you who gets the part. BUT even that crap isn’t MEANT personally. YOU can only do YOUR best. Sometimes it’s enough sometimes it isn’t…
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
A: Onstage would certainly be the time I was dropped out of a lift and cracked a bone in my foot… had to finish the run because there was no understudy. Lot’s of tape and a VERY understanding chiropractor/acupuncturist got me through that one. I was the Sugar Plum fairy… soooo…
OFF Stage… wow. I see lots of the injuries that happen because of my background. Freak accidents like slipping because the floor had been re-sealed and the performer tore her MCL. A performer who cut her fingers on a “pie crust’ eyelet on her corset and needed 10 stitches. Set pieces falling over. My favorite was not mine but a friend who Stage Managed an opera at a small local company who got confused in a music repeat and called a scene change about 5 minutes to early that involved flying a faux stone archway out… it hung in midair for the 5 minutes 2 of which were in half light… during a performance… YAS! I mean, it’s LIVE theatre, stuff happens.
Q: What is your dream role/show?
A: I am always down for Puccini’s “Tosca” and I LOVE “Ghosts of Versailles” I LOVE opera. I wouldn’t mind being “The Chaperone” at some point but I am not dealing with auditions so that probably won’t happen. I LOVE stage decorating/dressing and I am pretty good at wardrobe.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
A: RuPaul’s Drag Race and Lucifer. Hey a good looking man is a good looking man.
Thank you Theresa!
Grace Austin is an STL based director and educator (who decided she was going to use a different photo this week for anyone who notices. She’s also holding about ten hats in her hands in the photo above because she dressed the Men’s Ensemble and that opera might as well have been called Grapes of Hats).
See her work at gracemaustin.com