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Art With Heart By Meredith Griffin G abriella Calicchio is lit from within. Full of life and warmth, she is a clear-eyed woman who knew from a young age that she wanted to be in the theater. The first play she remembers ever seeing was Eugene O’Neills, A Moon for the Misbegotten. “The woman playing the lead was just brilliant,” says Calicchio. “I must have been 8 or 9 years old and I knew from that moment that the theater was the life I wanted. It was a passion that I was able to hold onto and a passion that I was able to follow.” Her parents, David and Nancy Holmes Calicchio, met when, after graduating from Brown, she applied for a job at his company “The Putney Reading Company.” Her father ended up teaching at Windham College as part of the reading company, later becoming a professor until the college went under in the mid to late seventies. By then, Putney, Vermont became a mecca for artists and writers, including John Irving and Jim Dine. David Calicchio taught English, was a playwright and directed local theater. “I like to say that I grew up in the back of the theater, and watched rehearsals while pretending to do my homework,” says Calicchio. When Calicchio turned 16, she was accepted at Simon’s Rock Early College, a division of Bard College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It was a school for young people who were excelling in high school and who were ready for college. After two years at Simon’s Rock, 32 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE she was accepted at Bard College where she majored in drama and dance. After graduation, she saved enough money to buy a $99 ticket on People’s Express Airlines to the U.K. where she waited on tables, did pub theater and studied mime. After meeting an Australian and falling in love, she decided to move to Melbourne where she was able to get a great agent right away and found her way into television work. She also taught theater – she was living her life completely in the arts world. In 1991, she came back to the states for a friend’s wedding and decided to stay. She was looking to go to grad school for acting or directing. She landed in Boston without an agent or an equity card. “I was 27 years old and thought, ‘I’m just not hungry enough for this.” Thinking that perhaps arts administration would be a better path, she enrolled at Lesley University in Cambridge,