Internationally acclaimed theatre and opera lighting designer Chris Parry has died at age 54 in San Diego, where he was a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego. He was the principal designer for Axiom Lighting, a lighting design and consulting firm in San Diego, and combined teaching with a transatlantic design career.
Trained in his native England, Parry has designed internationally for more than 30 years, earning the prestigious Tony Award, the British Olivier Award, and 25 other major awards and nominations, including the New York Drama Desk Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award.
His work included 160 British and US regional theatre and opera designs, as well as several Broadway productions, a section of the movie Renaissance Man, and several retail design projects in San Diego and Los Angeles.
Among his credits were The Who’s Tommy, directed by Des MacAnuff, which won the Tony Award for Parry. Other highlights of his long career in lighting direction included 24 productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), including the musical The Blue Angel for Trevor Nunn, The Secret Garden and A Midsummer Night's Dream for Adrian Noble, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses for Howard Davies, which garnered him a Tony Award nomination and the New York Drama Desk Award for the production design on Broadway. Parry also worked with the Royal National Theatre in England, as well as work for the Los Angles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of Lucca (Italy), La Jolla Playhouse and many others prestigious venues.
He was nominated for the New York Drama Desk Award for his work on RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream on Broadway, as well as the London Olivier Award nomination for the production lighting design in England. For his designs on the Tennessee Williams premiere of Not About Nightingales he won the New York Drama Desk Award and received another Tony nomination. He had been living and designing in the United States since 1989.
“Chris was a brilliant designer and a wonderful teacher,” said Charlie Oates, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at UC San Diego. “He will be greatly missed here and throughout the world of theatre.”
Parry was presented the LDI Lighting Designer of the Year Award in 1994 by Lighting Dimensions, and received a total of 22 major industry awards and nominations.
He is survived by his son, Richard, and former wife, Vivien Gregg, both of San Diego, as well as his step-mother, Noelle Parry, of the United Kingdom.