Forty years ago, Marian Wallace wanted a job in lighting design, but the Asolo "didn’t want to hire a girl," she recalls. So Wallace, who had just married a young actor named Bradford Wallace, worked the box office, drove a van and assisted stage managers until in 1968, she got her big break by staging The Visit. Since then, Wallace, now 60, has managed some 200 plays with 50 different directors. "The stage manager is the director’s first eye," she explains. "You’re a middle manager coordinating everything from lighting to costume design." And let’s not forget ensuring that Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol escapes the stage’s trap door without suffocating from dry ice or snagging his chain on the door hinge. (Asolo actors have gotten stuck twice in this role.)
It’s "almost unheard of" for theater people to stay in one place for as long as they have, Wallace admits. But in a profession not known for stability, their long run at the Asolo "allowed us to raise three children in relative normality."