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In Memoriam: Nino Novellino, President of Costume Armour

Michael S. Eddy • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • June 15, 2021

Nino Novellino, President of Costume Armour, died on June 11, 2021, from complications with Myasthenia Gravis. He was 80. We at Stage Directions send our sincere condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and the staff at Costume Armour. Here’s a video interview with Novellino in 2013 on his work as a theatrical sculptor and the work of the team at Costume Armour from the American Theatre Wing:

Novellino was born on June 25, 1940 and grew up in Glen Rock, NJ. His unique talent for art was discovered early and he graduated with honors from Pratt Institute in New York.

After marrying the love of his life, Mary, he started working for Feller Scenery and Costume Armour in New York and they lived in Manhattan until 1976 when they moved into a Victorian house in Goshen, NY. Nino and Mary also bought Costume Armour from their bosses Peter and Katie Feller in 1976. They worked side by side for years and turned Costume Armour into a thriving theatrical company. Unfortunately, Nino lost Mary to an aneurysm almost thirty years ago, but with the help of his devoted staff, Costume Armour continued to thrive for 50 years.

Novellino was often referred to as the Michelangelo of Broadway. His sculptures, props, and set pieces appeared on hundreds of Broadway stages from Man of La Mancha to Phantom of the Opera. New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Martha Graham Dance Company as well as The Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera were enhanced by his talents. He helped to jazz up the stages of Las Vegas and added to the enchantment to all four of the Disney Theme Parks as well as Universal Studios. Even Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, The Big Apple Circus, and Radio City Music Hall were touched by Novellino and Costume Armour. His work was also seen in film and television projects.

In 2004 he received The Irene Sharaff Artisan Award for his sculpture in the theater.

He was generous to a fault. If he had it, he would give it to someone. He was always thinking of the “other person” first. He was handsome, distinguished, and always the perfect gentleman. You rarely came upon him when he wasn’t wearing a tie. He was funny and sarcastic… clever and smart. His smile could light up room.

Visitation will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Thursday, June 17 at Donovan Funeral Home, Inc., 82 South Church Street, Goshen, NY. Family is requesting that masks be worn by everyone that will be attending the visitation at the funeral home. A Mass of Christian Burial to Celebrate his life will be held 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 18 at St. John The Evangelist RC Church, 71 Murray Ave., Goshen, NY. Burial will follow in St John’s Cemetery, Goshen.

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