2017–18 Season: Costume Designer of Girls of the Golden West
Making her San Francisco Opera debut in Girls of the Golden West, Rita Ryack earned a BFA at Brandeis University, studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, won a teaching fellowship in costume design at Bennington College, and received an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Her first Broadway musical, for which she received a Tony nomination, was My One and Only, directed by Tommy Tune. She was nominated for a second Tony for Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, directed by Joe Mantello. She has designed productions on and off-Broadway, working for such notable directors as Peter Sellars, Lee Breuer, Robert Brustein, Harry Kondoleon, Lynne Meadow, Jerry Zaks, Dan Sullivan, and Sam Shepard, and for distinguished playwrights Donald Margulies, Christopher Durang, Terence McNally, and Harry Kondoleon. She has been honored with the Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Costume Design (where critic Michael Feingold described her design style as “haute couture meets lunacy”). She has worked extensively in regional theater as well, and spent a season as principal costume designer at Robert Brustein’s American Repertory Theatre.
Martin Scorsese hired Ryack to design her first feature film, After Hours, which led to further collaborations with the director. Among her films with Robert DeNiro, she designed Wag the Dog, directed by Barry Levinson; The Fan, directed by Tony Scott; Mad Dog and Glory, directed by John McNaughton, and A Bronx Tale, Robert DeNiro’s directorial debut. Ryack has designed costumes for six of Ron Howard’s films, including Apollo 13, Ransom, A Beautiful Mind, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the latter of which she received an Academy Award nomination.