Memorial service plans for Wade Giampa, the local set designer who died Oct. 30 from complications of esophageal cancer, have been set.
It will be at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at the Irving Arts Center's Dupree Theatre, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving.
He designed sets for Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, Lyric Stage, Uptown Players, WingSpan Theatre Company, Garland Civic Theatre and Circle Theatre, among other groups.
Wade J. Giampa grew up in Massachusetts and came to Dallas from New York in 1985 to design the 100th Anniversary of Coca-Cola, at the request of the late Broadway set designer Peter Wolf. Before coming to Dallas, Giampa attended Massachusetts College of Arts and worked in regional theater and summer stock. He was an in-house designer from 1977 to 1985 for ABC-TV, working in local and national broadcasting. He has also designed for the Nice Opera and La Biennale di Venezia International Theatre Festival, and worked for Wolf designing the tours of Singin' in the Rain and Annie in Japan. He also designed sets for a number of Tyler Perry’s touring plays, including Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Class Reunion and Madea Goes to Jail.
His other local projects included the designs for Prestonwood Baptist Church of Dallas' annual Christmas Festival and other religious pageants, including The Promise in Glen Rose.
Giampa is survived by his son Jason and granddaughter Jacklyn of Massachusetts.
We have included some photos and renderings of Giampa's work here.
Send your thoughts and memories of Wade Giampa to email@example.com, and we'll post them below.
►From Cathy O'Neal, stage manager, properties designer and TheaterJones contributer:
My first show with Wade was A Man of No Importance at Uptown Players. At our first production meeting he brought in a set rendering that I wanted to mat, frame and hang in my house as artwork, it was that gorgeous. We became show trash friends instantly! I loved working on shows with Wade as a stage manager and as a fellow designer.
As a stage manager, Wade respected me and my needs. He never told me something couldn’t be adjusted or to figure out how to make it work. He made sure to work with me to solve problems or deal with contrary set pieces.
As a props designer, he was a great resource to me, and I loved that he worked with me so closely. I did the majority of the dressing on his beautiful Twilight of the Golds set, but usually we worked together, like on Sylvia, Die, Mommie, Die!; and my favorite set to dress with Wade, The Winter Wonderettes. We had crazy fun with the whole ‘60s schtick, especially our pink Christmas tree, the mod decorations and the ‘60s Christmas gift wrap.
We called each other constantly when we were out scouring the Metroplex for stuff for that show, telling one another about our latest finds. His attention to detail was impeccable and a big reason why his sets were so spectacular (and why they won so many awards). I also loved that Wade didn’t bring the traditional "good show" gifts to the cast of a show he was designing. He brought them to his fellow designers and his stage manager. I have several that I will cherish even more now. In addition to being a big talent, Wade was a big-hearted, kind and wickedly funny man. I will never forget him or what he contributed to our theater community.
►From Coy Covington, actor, director and TheaterJones contributer:
We worked together often and always had a cackling good time, but I'll never forget the time Wade Giampa made me downright giddy. I was directing Pageant at Uptown Players and he was doing the set. What I wanted more than anything was a retractable runway. I mean, what's a pageant girl to do without a proper runway on which to work? But with spatial and budgetary considerations, I never dreamed I'd get my runway. Funny thing about dreams. If you don't have them they can't come true. Opening night my "beauties" not only had that runway...it had chaser lights! There were lots of queens around...but Wade? Wade Giampa was a Prince.
►From Clare Floyd DeVries, set designer:
Once, while we chatted, I watched Wade's quick paintbrush magic turn a bunch of old flats into a birch forest. That was Wade. One day turn a view through a door into a joke tossed to the audience—the rear view of a nude statue—another day design a poetic environment for [Circle Theatre's] A Moon for the Misbegotten. I frankly envied his design (and exquisite model) for that one. Wade was a gifted designer and a lovely painter.
I respected my colleague's talent and expertise, but I loved that I could always turn to Wade for advice and help, for scholarship and funny stories, or for a nice refreshing kvetch. He was unfailingly kind and generous to me. A real gent.
We will all miss Wade the Designer onstage, but some of us are privileged to miss Wade the Friend offstage, too.