"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," a Playhouse Jr. production running through
"I always said I would (continue) as long as it was fun," says DiFonso, 66. "It became work. ... It's been fun, but I'm tired of being on deadline."
He's looking forward to having time to travel and create watercolor paintings.
Filling a resume with 150 productions is almost inevitable when you work at
During his nearly four decades at the
"He's flexible. Don can cover any genre," says
"He's a lovely man, very sensitive to actors' costumes, making sure we look good, feel good and that (the costumes) work good for the character," Kovitz says. "I know it's important to him that everybody be comfortable onstage and clothes help create the character."
DiFonso is particularly proud of his costume work on the
"I liked doing that production, though it almost killed me. ... There wasn't enough time to build everything," he says, noting that he had to rent some pieces.
In recent years, he has worked exclusively at
"I came in through the back door," DiFonso says.
He was studying for an associate's degree from
They asked him to design the sets and lights for a production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" -- and he just kept on going.
"It used to be so fun," DiFonso says. "I'm a designer at heart. I did lights, costumes, sets."
As the technology changed, he began narrowing his work. He eliminated lights, then sets, while continuing to design costumes.
"Because I could take them home at night and work in front of the TV," he says.
In 1978, while working on a production of "The King and I," one of the actresses told him the Playhouse was looking for a designer. He applied for the job and never left.
DiFonso also worked as an instructor for
"I really enjoy the students," he says. "They're just so fresh and appreciative of everything you do, and they are fun because they keep you young."
Although retiring, he plans to continue teaching the costume construction class.
Lindblom says he doesn't expect to miss DiFonso: "Because we are going to suck him back in. He will retire, but still do (a) show when he wants. He's not retiring as an artist."
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