This is the final section of ED's 35th Anniversary Special Report. To go back to Part V, "More How We Got Here," Click here.


Beatlemania was a breakaway three-year hit on Broadway and played across North America and in London, although neglected by the New York critics for not being "Broadway." It was one of the most influential designs of the last three decades owing to its ingenious and unique integration of projection and lighting design. Never before on the American stage had imagery been the primary scripting of a theatrical event. Thirty-six slide projectors front- and rear-projecting on two separate surfaces with the performers visible between them created a dreamscape environment. The story of the progression of the 60s accompanied the Beatles catalog with eclectic styles of painting and photography. This concept of integrating projection with lighting and performance to become a primary narrative element, bowing to the pioneering techniques of Josef Svoboda in Europe, became the precursor to many future designs in both the theatre (Rock 'n Roll, the First 5,000 Years, The Who's Tommy, Jane Eyre) and on the concert stage, in the work of David Bowie and Laurie Anderson, to name just a few.


I think Steve Kennedy's design for Tommy ushered in a new era for theatrical sound. This was a sound design that was unapologetic for being loud. Tommy was a piece that cried out for raw power and majesty. The tumult of the orchestral crescendo needed to truly lift the audience out of their seats, pulses racing. It did, and it did it with a clean, full sound, which I found to be uncharacteristic of many other musicals. So often the goal in designing a musical is to make it seem like there is no sound reinforcement at all. Tommy seemed to embrace the concept of a rock-and-roll PA, while maintaining theatricality in its presentation.


Absolutely anything of Boris Aronson's is memorable and influential, but especially his scenery, along with the costumes by Florence Klotz, and lighting by Tharon Musser, for the original Follies (1971). In collaborative support to the co-direction of Harold Prince and Michael Bennett dealing with the Sondheim/Goldman musical and great cast, it will never be better. It will never be again!


Vari*Lites placed atop Roman-style columns at varying heights. Some of the fixtures are wrapped in tinfoil. The cyc is constructed of randomly sewn-together pieces of raw rubber held up by chains and meat hooks. Fixtures are strewn about the deck, creating ghastly shadows on the band members. The majority of the show is backlit. Most important is the timing; the operator's timing (I believe it was Gary Westcott): impeccable.

Roy Bennett's show was so visually striking to me that I decided then and there that I would design lighting and sets for concerts. Recently I've been given several opportunities to work for Mr. Bennett and it's been akin to a teenager getting to play onstage with his favorite band.


What modern designer can say they were not influenced by It's a Small World, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as production design projects? The Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Adventure Cruise were my favorite themed rides as a child and had me wondering "How did they do that" after I rode them the first time, and looking for technology every future ride. Just like Cats, these production designs seem hokey now, but they are the historical backbone of today's performances and tomorrow's technology.


The first movie set I remember noticing as such was John Box's wonderful, stylized evocation of Dickens' London in Carol Reed's 1968 Oliver! When it won the Best Art Direction Oscar, I thought, "Oh, that's what that award is for." Design is central to what has always drawn me to movies — their ability to open up new worlds and re-imagine old ones. With that criterion in mind, here are a few of my personal Oscars for the past 35 years.

MOST PERSUASIVE PERIOD RECREATION: Dean Tavoularis, early 1900s Little Italy sequences of The Godfather, Part II . MOST CREATIVE STUDIO-BOUND DESIGN: Ken Adam and Philip Harrison, Pennies From Heaven . BEST STAR COSTUME, HAIR, AND MAKEUP DESIGN: Anthea Sylbert, et. al., for Faye Dunaway's 1930s look in Chinatown . MOST UNEXPECTED TREND-SETTING COSTUMES: Ruth Morley and Diane Keaton's closet, Annie Hall . BEST VISUAL EFFECTS SHOT: Doug Trumbull, the first full view of the mother ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind . BEST OLD-AGE MAKEUP: Dick Smith, 115-year-old Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man . MOST EXCITING MAKEUP EFFECT: Rick Baker, the onscreen transformation in An American Werewolf in London . MOST INVENTIVE SOUND DESIGN: Alan Splet, Eraserhead . CONSULTANT DAVID H. ROSENBURG'S TOP THREE

3. The periaktoi in A Chorus Line turning around and the brilliant lighting by Tharon Musser to light a stage with a mirrored back wall.

2. The tire scene in Cats (remember, this was over 20 years ago). Had anyone pushed the limits of technology as far as that show did? 1. Jennifer Tipton's beautifully simple lighting of Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room . Once again (and most definitively) proving that nothing looks as good as lights through smoke. LIGHTING DESIGNER TOM RUZIKA'S TOP THREE
  1. Every Tharon Musser design that I saw influenced me. There is no way that you could forget her lighting for A Chorus Line. And nothing has ever surpassed her design for Ballroom. Keep naming every show that she designed and each one had a special influence on the world of lighting design.

  2. Jules Fisher's and Peggy Eisenhauer's lighting for Ragtime demonstrated how beautifully automated lights could be orchestrated in a musical. Their example has been a major influence in how I approach musicals using automated lights.
  3. Theatre Crafts and Entertainment Design have influenced me for 35 years. Theatre Crafts was like a textbook for me when I was in school. I was able to see beyond my small academic world to an international world full of amazing technology and design. Entertainment Design now lets me see the work of my colleagues and keeps me informed of the entertainment business and my competition in business.

Great designs? Great designs come from great collaboration. The periaktoi in A Chorus Line would have looked really dumb if the show was The Music Man . The trapeze ship in Cirque's production of O would not have worked on the Ringling Bros. show. But they were showstoppers because they worked so well with what was going on.