It's not easy being Santo Loquasto -- Being a set designer for Woody Allen has its ups and downs

By Beth Pinsker
Updated December 09, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

It took set designer Santo Loquasto months of antiquing and book browsing to outfit the lavish, eccentrically cluttered Art Deco and Turkish-inspired apartments in Woody Allen’s latest film, the Roaring ’20s farce Bullets Over Broadway. ”’Oh, no, not another piece of junk!’ the construction coordinator would say to me,” says Loquasto, 50, a Tony award-winning and Oscar-nominated designer who has worked with Allen on 12 of the director’s films since Stardust Memories (1980), creating sets as idiosyncratic as Allen’s films.

Loquasto’s the man who designed the inflatable suit that transformed the skinny director into a fat man before our eyes in Zelig (1983), lit up New York using every sign maker in town for Radio Days (1987), and built the intricate miniature circus and town in Shadows and Fog (1992). The long association between designer and director has also created a bond so close that, says Bullets producer Jean Doumanian, ”I think Santo could finish Woody’s sentences by now.”

Loquasto’s sets span the 1920s to the 1990s, but they rarely stray far from New York City. A soft-spoken Pennsylvania native, Loquasto trained at the Yale School of Drama and began designing costumes for legendary New York theater producer Joseph Papp in the early 1970s. He’s also created sets and costumes ( for such contemporary choreographers as Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, and Paul Taylor, as well as for directors Penny Marshall (Big, 1988) and Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan, in which a bustier-wearing Madonna made her screen debut in 1985).

But his heart, it seems, belongs to Woody — although creating the look for a director who is known to have strong ideas about every small detail isn’t easy. ”It’s his shot to call,” admits Loquasto, who, like Allen, can be reclusive (Loquasto stayed home eating Chinese food in lieu of attending the Oscar ceremony in 1988, when he was a nominee for Radio Days). But, he adds of the director-turned-tabloid star, ”Allen’s difficult in a way that’s so low-key, he’s not tyrannical.”

Bullets Over Broadway

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