Meet the Staff: Marianna Wood, Special Events Manager/Development Coordinator

Marianna WoodEveryone loves an amazing party. But it takes a Marianna Wood to throw one.

She’s multi-talented. Her enthusiasm is infectious. And boy, does she know how to take a room full of people and get them to have a great time.

It all began with a quesadilla

She’s an old pro by now, but Marianna’s first bash was for a bunch of high school friends.

“I had just figured out how to make quesadillas,” she remembers. “And I was really proud, because they tasted just like the ones at Friendly’s.”

It’s all been uphill from there. Marianna’s penchant for throwing a mean party landed her more and more gigs: her own family started tapping her talents for wedding showers and other gatherings. Before long her client list grew to include more and more people and companies.

Wooden spoons, Medicaid, and Puritans

Marianna keeps her events exciting, and her favorite way to do that is with a great themed activity.

Take, for example, her cousin’s wedding shower: they celebrated marriage proposal traditions across the world (and across the centuries) – some of which (like carving a wooden spoon for your beloved, or attempting to recognize your future spouse by the feel of their leg) make for great party games.

Or for the woman who was celebrating becoming a senior citizen: “We made the cake look like a Medicaid card,” Marianna remembers. “And she really wanted dancing, so we did themed dances through the decades, starting with the Bunny Hop and the Twist, and ending with the Macarena and the Stanky Leg.”

Marianna’s next big shindig? It’s this week’s Puritan Party, our fundraiser at Smolak Farms, which will feature delicious farm-to-table foods, an interactive performance from historical folk musician and entertainer David Coffin, and even a 1702 dress-up photo booth station.

Right at home in the theatre

Before joining the MRT team, Marianna worked for many years as a professional actress, from Boston to Florida to Utah to London. She’s racked up an impressive list of theatre stories (the time she fell from a stage during a blackout, for instance – or working with an actress who broke into a nosebleed mid-performance, much to the audience’s horror).

You can find her singing more often than acting these days (she’s a regular on local rockabilly circuit), or hanging with her adorable dogs Toby and Banjo - but her love of theatre runs deep. It makes perfect sense that she’s found a home as our Special Events Manger. She’s one of our chief assets – and anyone who’s been to a Marianna Wood event knows why.

Hidden Talent: “I am great at picking locks. I am also quite adept at getting dogs to howl along with me when I sing. Please note, this is not a reflection of my actual singing voice”

Best Theatre Memory: “Playing Salt & Peppa’s Push It on a recorder in The Awesome 80’s Prom. It’s doubly awesome and I can still play it.”

Deep Dark Secret: “As soon as I live in a place with a garage, I am going to buy a rat rod and then give it a chop top and suicide doors. Less of a secret. More of a life goal.”

Need to throw a party? Learn from the best:

Marianna’s Top Five Tips for Throwing an Amazing Party

1. Consider your guests. What may work for a group of people in their 20’s may not be appropriate for a group in their 50’s. I went to a bridal shower that had a lingerie theme. It would have been great for a bachelorette party, but some of the older ladies in the crown were a bit shocked by some of the activities and gifts. Find activities that include everyone and encourage involvement.

2. Steal ideas from other people and improve on them. Pinterest is a great place to start.

3. Do something unique. Tried and true ideas work, but for a memorable party, do something people haven’t seen before. If you think it’s fun, chances are other people will think so too.

4. Whenever possible, include inflatable sumo wrestling*. (Personal preference. It’s not for everyone…)

5. When taking a picture of a couple, ask them why they love each other or about when they fell in love. Their faces will soften and they will smile naturally. You will get a much better picture.

*Please note: There will be no inflatable sumo wrestling at the MRT fundraiser - this year, anyway.