I met Julie Zavala-Marantette several years ago when she was in a class I taught at Whatcom Community College. When she told me she was interested in makeup, I suggested that she contact Bellingham Theatre Guild to see if they needed a volunteer for their productions.
That started Julie on a journey that led her to do makeup for shows both in Bellingham and for Lynden Performing Arts Guild. She even enlisted her husband, Ed, to become involved in theater.
She and Ed are co-directing "The Little Shop of Horrors," running Thursday, May 2, through May 19 at Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Lynden's Dutch Village Mall. Next up for Julie's makeup talent is "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at Bellingham Theatre Guild in June, directed by Ed.
Question: When did you become interested in art?
Answer: I started proving my artistic ability at age 3. My brother, Richard, showed me how to create unique designs, and my father, Joe, was a carpenter. They were the start to really perusing my art.
As a teen, I entered a contest that was rated on the accuracy of free-handing a cartoon bear. A few months later I was offered a full scholarship for my artistic ability. I graduated with my arts fundamentals certificate and continued my education at Whatcom Community College.
To pay for college, I accepted a job as lead cosmetician. I had a huge clientele who relied on my keen ability to match colors. As a perk of my job, I was sent to several beauty classes with representatives from the most popular companies, from Revlon to Max Factor.
Q: When did you start doing makeup for local theater?
A: I started in 2005/2006 at Bellingham Theatre Guild as the makeup artist for "Fiddler on the Roof." I had so much fun that I volunteered as the makeup to almost every production.
(An early memory from childhood was playing dress up with my two sisters, Rachael and Reneé. We would get dressed up in my mother's heels, paint our nails and make up our faces, then we would play records on our jukebox and act out each song as if it were our little musical put on for our parents. I didn't know it then, but that was setting me up for my days in live theater.)
Q: And then you started acting?
A: The first live theater experience with an audience was when I was cast in "Dearly Departed." I continued acting in seven other productions. At first I had never imagined that I would be on stage, but now I can't imagine my life without theater. My experience includes costumer, hair, and assistant directing, in hopes to direct a play of my own some day.
Q: You have a day job along those lines, right?
A: In 2009, to start my own business called J.E.M. Special Events & Beauty, which includes makeup, face painting, henna and airbrush tattoos. The day I started J.E.M., it flourished. I've been told that my work is unique and beautiful and that I've touched so many lives with my artistic ability, from the clients that I teach makeup to, and from the teens that I've mentored.
Q: What has the Lynden show been like for you?
A: I am a first-time co-director for "Little Shop of Horrors." "Little Shop" is one of my favorite all-time musicals. I remember watching this production as a child and loved every minute of it. My dream of directing has come true, and I couldn't ask for a better cast and crew. "Little Shop" is a family-friendly show, but it does have a few curse words.
Q: What's coming up for you in Bellingham?
A: Ed and I have wanted to direct "Sweeney Todd" for the past three years. Every time we would walk into the Bellingham Theatre Guild playhouse Ed would whisper in my ear, "there's where the pie shop should go."
After years of planning, we are finally able to present a hard-hitter like "Sweeney Todd" at the BTG as first-time directors. We see "Sweeney" as a love story, more than a horror show. The cast members in "Sweeney Todd" are all die-hard "Sweeney Todd" fans, and it shows. "Sweeney Todd" is not intended for younger viewers. The production runs June 7-23.
Q: What's next for you?
A: I plan to continue directing, and possibly writing a show of my own, or possibly a book. I also have plans on displaying more of my art, either makeup or custom art.