On August 16, Huffington Post staff writer Todd Van Luling published “My 20-Year Quest to Find Carmen Sandiego.”
Van Luling’s story charmingly chronicles why and how he tracked down who played the role of the “globe-trotting supervillain” in the 1996 PBS television show Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, a live action spin-off of the educational computer game Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? For Van Luling and many other 20- and 30-somethings, Carmen Sandiego has something like cult figure status, having been featured in popular kids’ games and other media since 1985. The PBS show’s creators had kept the actor’s identity secret and never showed her full face on screen.
Van Luling’s quest ended with a person who is familiar to many Wagnerians, especially those who follow the theater biz: Broadway veteran Janine LaManna ’88.
We know LaManna as a star of the Wagner College Theatre stage who went on to debut on Broadway in 1998 in Ragtime. She’s best known for playing Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical on Broadway in 2000–01, for which she received a 2001 Drama Desk nomination in the Outstanding Featured Actress (Musical) category. Other Broadway credits include Janet Van De Graaf in The Drowsy Chaperone (2006) and Nickie in Sweet Charity (2005).
What was not officially known* was that she played Carmen Sandiego. Cloaked in a red trench coat, her face half hidden by a broad-brimmed red fedora, she delighted youngsters like Van Luling with her “magical gift for stealing landmarks around the world. … But catching her red-handed was a near impossibility.”
Thanks, Todd Van Luling, for allowing us to add one more big credit to the long list earned by Wagner College Theatre stars!
— Laura Barlament, Editor, Wagner Magazine / Oct. 20, 2016
* NB: It was mentioned as “her first big break” in a 2001 New York Times story, so it wasn’t all that secret.