Getting to Know Theresa Zicolello - Dallas Theater Center
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Getting to Know Theresa Zicolello

What do you do as General Manager? 

I report to the Managing Director and oversee the Company Manager, Facilities Manager, and Office Manager/ IT Coordinator. I am responsible for keeping the company buildings operational, equipment and IT functions running smoothly, and keeping artists contracted, paid, and safe. Another part of my job is working alongside the Producer and Director of Production to create and maintain show specific budgets, in addition to hiring, onboarding, and writing contracts. Dallas Theater Center is part of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), so I maintain current knowledge of all the union activities, contracts, and changing rules.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I enjoy negotiating contract terms with agents and updating contracts with new clauses and language, when needed. I continually crave to learn new things, so when a contract needs new or updated language, I get to speak to my peers around the country to see how they write their contracts and I also look up legal terminology. Contracts are binding but the language is fluid and one sentence can be written multiple ways.

This is going to be a truly unique season. What are you looking forward to the most? 

I cannot wait for the first live production to return and to feel the energy in the room. Until we can share the space with live actors and an audience, I am most excited to experience the creativity of our production team. This season has given us the opportunity to showcase our talented Production Department heads as designers, while they remain creative and innovative in their staff roles to create unique experiences under extreme circumstances.

Cast members of HAIR, photo by Karen Almond

You’ve worked at several theaters. What makes Dallas Theater Center distinct?

I have enjoyed all of my theater experiences, but what makes Dallas Theater Center distinct is how innovative the productions continue to be. Electra was outside and immersive and HAIR was in your face 60’s (no pun intended). Dallas Theater Center is also the first theater I worked where new plays are developed through playwright commissions and various readings. It is wonderful to see the evolution of a piece of work go from the page to the stage. 

What is your favorite Dallas Theater Center production and why?

Dreamgirls! The story, the music, and the talent on and behind the stage was amazing. The cast had multiple costume and wig changes, the choreography was on point, and hearing a live orchestra play the score was wonderful. That production is one I would watch over and over again. I loved seeing the three actors rise above the stage in the haze and spotlight.

Cast of Dreamgirls, photo by Karen Almond

You’ve worked closely with the COVID compliance officers. What can you tell us about the safety measures Dallas Theater Center has taken?

Dallas Theater Center has worked closely with the AT&T Performing Arts Center to make sure the Wyly campus is safe for staff and artists. The HVAC system has upgraded air filters and the cleaning staff provides daily in depth high touch point cleaning and weekly electrostatic cleaning of the rehearsal hall.

The Dallas Theater Center compliance officer and manager had hours of online training to prepare themselves on what COVID is, CDC guidelines, personal protective equipment needed, and much more. I was also part of the team that helped create a 50 page document that details all of the safety precautions for the filming of In The Bleak Midwinter. Some of these protocols include daily self-screenings, weekly testing, strict social distance rules and proper cleaning and sanitization of costumes, microphones, props, and scenery. 

Let’s not forget that Dallas Theater Center has two other buildings, Potter Production Studios and the Kalita Humphreys Theater. While the Kalita remains closed, Dallas Theater Center prepared Potter Production Studios to reopen by providing deep cleaning, correct safety equipment and the ordering of 72 gallons of hand sanitizer (to be spread out between the buildings). 

Most importantly, this situation remains fluid and changes daily. The Dallas Theater Center staff continues to gain knowledge and training on the most up to date safety protocols and procedures.

You’ve taught at Dallas Theater Center and other places. What do you like about teaching?  

I enjoy sharing information that I was not taught in college about the industry and job responsibilities. For example, I went to college to be a stage manager but was never taught what it meant to be a freelance worker, how that might affect how I process my taxes, or how to create petty cash reports when buying supplies. I did learn a lot about petty cash and receipt tracking, but on my internship. I want each student to be prepared with as much information about the “real world” working artist, but most of all that the degree you go to college for does not define you. I only knew about stage management programs but since college I have been a stage manager, company manager, contract manager, and general manager. I did not know some of these positions existed, if I did, I may have taken a finance class or two. 

Do you have any fur family members you want to tell us about?

I have two cats, Luna and Sky. I adopted them 11 years ago and they are sisters. Both have traveled with me from New Jersey to Dallas when I decided to work at Dallas Theater Center. They were always great companions, but even more so when I shifted to working from home because of COVID. They have such fun personalities!

If you won the lottery, what are the first five things you would do?

I would first give back to my parents, I would then create a grant/scholarship fund for students wanting to pursue a career in the arts, donate to different arts organizations over the years, help create awareness of mental health needs and research, and travel the world.

Do you have any advice for someone who’d like to get involved with theater, but doesn’t know where to start?

Look for internships and summer stock jobs! I learned the most by doing the job, and honestly found out what I enjoyed and what areas of theater I did not want to pursue. Also, read lots and gain as much knowledge as possible about the industry. There are so many different jobs within the entertainment industry and most importantly, it’s okay to change your mind and start off in one department and move to another. Ask questions!

Pick a celebrity to have dinner with. Who is there and what are you having?

I have been lucky in my career to have met and worked with many celebrities. Tony Danza is still one of the highlights, who offered me his own home cooked chicken soup and sauce. But for those I have not met, I would dinner with Elton John and Whoopi Goldberg. Between both of their talents and interesting lives, I think dinner would be full of laughs, singing, and heartfelt conversation.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you like to talk about?

When don’t I want to talk about Baseball! I am a native New Jerserian who loves the Yankees and anything baseball.