Theater & Dance
Ron Gasparinetti

What he does: Resident scenic designer and production manager at City Lights, San Jose, California
Also: Freelance set design in San Francisco Bay Area

Latest show: "The Addams Family"
By: Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, based on the cartoon characters created by Charles Addams
Produced by: Palo Alto Players
Featuring: Doug Santana as Gomez, Betsy Kruse Craig as Morticia, Joey McDaniel as Uncle Fester, Linda Piccone as Grandma, Catherine Gloria as Wednesday, Leo Jergovic as Pugsley, David Murphy as Lurch, Kennan Blehm as Mal Beineke, Jen Wheatonfox as Alice Beineke, and Adam Cotugno as Lucas Beineke. The male ensemble includes Juan Castro, Zendrex Llado, Jomar Martinez, Shahil Patel, and Michael Saenz. The female ensemble includes Jessica Ellithorpe, Yuliya Eydelnant, Jennifer Gorgulho, Danielle Mendoza, Devin Smith, and Jennifer Young.
Directed and choreographed by: Janie Scott
Musical direction by: Matthew Mattei
When: April 24 through May 10, 2015
Where: Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, California
Tickets: $34-$48. Call 650-329-0891 or visit

Read John Orr's interview with director/choreographer Janie Scott in The Daily News.

Read John Orr's interview with singer/actor Joey McDaniel in The Daily News.

Read John Orr's review of "The Addams Family" in Regarding Arts.

Ron Gasparinetti
John Orr / Regarding Arts
Ron Gasparinetti poses on one of four staircases he designed for "The Addams Family" at Palo Alto Players, partway through set construction on Thursday, April 16, 2015.
Santa Claus's rocketship started him on a career in theater
Ron Gasparinetti tried acting, decided he was better backstage; now he works all over the Bay Area
April 24, 2015

Ron Gasparinetti has been fascinated by theater since he was five years old and his grandparents took him to "a Christmas spectacular."

He remembers being watching a rocketship going to the moon in the play, a phenomenon that stayed with him for years, as he wondered how they did it.

Then, in high school, "I started as an actor, naturally," he said during a recent interview. "I wasn't very good. I went backstage one day, realized what they did, never came out."

By his junior year of college, he had worked as a lighting designer for a show — "A band or something," he said. "Eartha Kitt was there."

That's when he realized he didn't like doing lighting design, "because when you turn out the lights, the design is gone."

So, he talked with a counselor, and a career in set design began, which leads to the here and now, where Gasparetti designed the set for Palo Alto Players' production of "The Addams Family," which opens Saturday at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto.

"I think I went a little too large with the set, which I tend to do," he said by cellphone, as he was sitting outside, being tortured by pollen, after picking up some chairs for "The Addams Family" from City Lights in San Jose, where he is resident production manager.

"But it's a good thing, that the set is a little too big for the stage, to be on the optimistic side. One of the characters in the show is the house — the craziness of the house."

The set, which, indeed, takes up pretty much all available space on the venerable Lucie Stern Theatre stage, includes two staircases for grand entrances seen by the audience, and two staircases in back, so the actors can get up there to make the entrances.

There is also a crypt, part of the graveyard set in which the show opens with a big dance scene.

The show, he pointed out, is not Chekov. "I want it to be fun, the show is just fun, the television show put on stage, no deep meaning."

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He is working with director and choreographer Janie Scott.

"I love working with her, Gasparinetti said. "She's a great conversationalist. We hit it off right away. She's willing to look at ideas, is willing to see what we can work out. I'd gladly do a show again with her."

"The Addams Family" job is a freelance gig, although it is Palo Alto Players that is responsible for getting Gasparinetti out of Newark, New Jersey, and into California.

"My contract had expired on the job I'd had, and wasn't happy where I was living, so I sent resumes everywhere."

Palo Alto Players hooked him, with a job as technical director, that evolved into the production manager job. Then he freelanced for a while, then eight years ago took the position of resident scenic designer and production manager at City Lights in San Jose. He lives in Palo Alto.

At City Lights, where "M. Butterfly" just closed, according to John Orr's review in Regarding Arts, "Ron Gasparinetti's sets, involving sliding Asian paper walls seem simple but accomplish a lot, making for fluid changes of scenery and for useful shadow play."

Next up for Gasparinetti at City Lights will be "Exit, Pursued by a Bear," by brilliant playwright Lauren Gunderson.

"It will be a lot of fun, I think," said Gasparinetti.

Email John Orr at

Ron Gasparinetti
John Orr / Regarding Arts
Ron Gasparinetti pops out of the crypt he designed for "The Addams Family," which opens in a cemetery, at Palo Alto Players, partway through set construction on Thursday, April 16, 2015.
Ron Gasparinetti
John Orr / Regarding Arts
Ron Gasparinetti with the Lucie Stern Theatre ghost lamp, as construction continues on the set he designed for "The Addams Family" at Palo Alto Players, on Thursday, April 16, 2015.
Ron Gasparinetti
John Orr / Regarding Arts
Ron Gasparinetti, seen through a wall of the mansion set for "The Addams Family" at Palo Alto Players. He is working on some damask draperies for the set he designed.