Best Of Tucson®

Diva of Disguise

Shana Nunez


SECRET POWER: Dressing the actors and actresses of Tucson theater

SECRET ORIGIN: While attending a radiology demonstration, mild-mannered seamstress Shana Nunez was bitten by a silkworm which had been exposed to radioactive rays. Through a miracle of science, Nunez soon found that she had gained the power to control any kind of fabric. She now threads the needle of justice in the fabric of the theater community!

THE REAL STORY: Shana Nunez seems to be everywhere in the world of Tucson theater, whether it's as a award-winning director, as a board member for Invisible Theatre or as a costumer for a number of productions, including recently for Dead Man's Cell Phone, by Chicken Lipps Productions and Studio Connections, and Arizona Onstage Productions' Sweeney Todd. Nunez's Facebook feed offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of Tucson stages, whether she's discussing the issues that arise from having a post-taxidermy dead fox mailed to her house, or, as Shana describes below, why a costume director needs to remember when she has items from a musical about a murderer in her backseat.

SUPER BESTS: The best thing about being a costume designer in Tucson is "hearing the audience reaction for the first time. After all of the hours of designing and sourcing, and the countless fittings and rehearsals, hearing an audience laugh or gasp in awe at something you have created is the very best feeling in the world. I try to attend as many of the shows I have worked on as possible. I was at every performance of Sweeney Todd due to the technical aspects of some of the costumes, and the very best moment for me was overhearing theater patrons discuss the costumes during intermission."

The best things about theater in Tucson are "Kevin Johnson, Susan Claassen, Kristi Loera, Sabian Trout, Christopher Johnson, Toni and Glen Coffman, Carrie Hill, Laura Lippman, Fred Rodriguez, Hank Krowicki, Dolly Spalding and all of the countless others who work so tirelessly to make theater in Tucson happen. These are the people who breathe the life into theater in Tucson, who challenge and inspire me to raise my game. These are the incredibly talented people who I have been so lucky to work with and learn from. Each of these people has entrusted me to design the characters that will inhabit their visions. I am endlessly grateful to each of them for being so fearless and passionate in their commitment to the arts, and for allowing me to come along for the ride."

The best place to get an after-show cocktail? "My two favorite places are both downtown, and both have very quickly become my after-show haunts. 47 Scott is the best place for a more-intimate, quiet vibe. The lighting and decor are dim, ultra-sophisticated and minimalistic, and it's the perfect place to go with a small party after a show. Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery is my other favorite downtown haunt. It is absolutely the best place to run into everyone you know on a Saturday night ... and they have a cocktail made with cherry Kool-Aid. Enough said."

The best theater company in Tucson? "All of them! Each company that we are lucky enough to have in Tucson has different viewpoints, and different visions to present. It is amazing how many productions we have running in Tucson at any given time, and there really is a show for every interest, taste and age group. I encourage everyone to get out there and attend a show this week!"

The best reason to be cautious when driving home after a show? "(On the) opening night of Sweeney Todd, after the show, I was pulled over because one of my headlights was burned out. It seemed to be taking the officer a long time to get back to my car. When a second police car showed up, I heard one officer tell the other, 'She says she is coming from Sweeney Todd, and she is a costume designer.' The officer then shined his flashlight and pointed at Sweeney's two bloodstained shirts hanging in my backseat."

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