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MA Top 30 Professional of the Year: Stephanie Arrigotti
By John Fleming
December 3, 2019
For nearly 30 years, Stephanie Arrigotti has brought musical theater to Carson City, NV. It’s the state capitol, but with a population of 55,000 it is much smaller than Las Vegas and Reno. At Western Nevada Musical Theater Company, Arrigotti produces and directs the shows, designs sets and costumes, makes the backdrops, and handles marketing. With over 106 productions to her credit, Arrigotti has mounted shows that have drawn as many as 7,200 to one, using the Carson City Community Center. Audience members come from 20 states and Canada.
The company is part of Western Nevada College, where Arrigotti is the school’s one fulltime performing arts professor who oversees curriculum and the parttime faculty in music, theater, and dance. Cast members are students, and professional actors in the area and often register for a musical theater practicum course to be in a show. Many alumni have gone on to pursue performance careers. To supplement ticket sales, the company rents out costumes and sets.
“You won’t find small, charming, or edgy musicals on our season,” says Arrigotti, noting that expenses for a big show can run as high as $170,000. “Only blockbusters can pay the rent.” The biggest hits have been Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid.
“Phantom was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “I had to pay for structural renovations to the theater to fly the chandelier. I did massive art work for the gilded proscenium. We used every inch backstage to accommodate the set. But it was a watershed moment. It was a beautiful production and showed people what we could do.”
WNMTC staged Matilda in November, and its 2020 season includes Once Upon a Mattress and Holiday Inn. Are there any musicals that Arrigotti still dreams of doing? “Wicked, if they ever release the rights and I live long enough. And I can’t wait for them to release Come from Away. I absolutely fell in love with that show.”
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