Thomas R. Skelton

Last updated

Thomas R. Skelton (September 24, 1927 [1] – August 9, 1994) was a lighting designer. In a career spanning more than four decades, he was best known for his lighting designs for ballet and Broadway theatre productions.



Born in North Bridgeton, Maine, Skelton graduated from Middlebury College, Theatre Department. He pursued an interest in modern dance after moving to New York, studying dance with Martha Graham and José Limón. His lighting career started as an apprentice to Jean Rosenthal at the American Dance Festival. He worked for Robert Joffrey's new dance company as a lighting designer and stage manager. [2]

By the 1950s he was published regularly in Dance Magazine with his lighting methods. He taught at both Yale University and New York Studio and Forum of Stage Design.

Most of his work was within the world of dance, particularly ballet. He designed lighting for, among others, the American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, the New York City Ballet and the Ohio Ballet, for which he was Associate Director. [3] His method was published as 'The Handbook for Dance Stagecraft' between October 1955 and December 1956 in Dance Magazine. [4]

He also designed lighting for some 63 Broadway productions, beginning with Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad in 1963 until his last production in 1993, Shakespeare For My Father . He also designed lighting for numerous productions at, among others, the Circle in the Square, Yale Repertory Theatre, and the American Shakespeare Festival. [4] Skelton received three Tony Award nominations.

According to the New York Times : "Mr. Skelton was equally at home in two very different art forms. His lighting brought extra texture and body and jewel-like color to dance stages in an era when dance lighting usually emphasized airy, open space. His theater designs often added a feeling of light and air to a stage picture while strengthening the dramatic quality of a production." [5]


Broadway (selected)

Related Research Articles

Jerome Robbins American theater producer, director, and choreographer

Jerome Robbins was an American choreographer, director, dancer, and theater producer who worked in classical ballet, on stage, film, and television. Among his numerous stage productions were On the Town, Peter Pan, High Button Shoes, The King and I, The Pajama Game, Bells Are Ringing, West Side Story, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins was a five-time Tony Award-winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story.

Jennifer Tipton is an American lighting designer. She has designed for dance, theater, and opera.

David Hersey is a lighting designer who has designed the lighting for over 250 plays, musicals, operas, and ballets. His work has been seen in most corners of the globe and his awards include the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design for Evita, Cats, and Les Misérables, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Cats, Miss Saigon, and Equus, and the 1996 Laurence Olivier Award for Lighting Design.

Mark Henderson is a British lighting designer who won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design for The History Boys.

Joseph Mielziner was an American theatrical scenic, and lighting designer born in Paris, France. He was described as "the most successful set designer of the Golden era of Broadway", and worked on both stage plays and musicals.

Howell Binkley is a professional lighting designer in New York City. He received the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design in a Musical for Jersey Boys in 2006, and again in 2016 for Hamilton.

Natasha Katz is a lighting designer for the theatre, dance, and opera.

Christopher Akerlind is an American lighting designer for theatre, opera, and dance. He won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design for Indecent He also won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Light in the Piazza and an Obie Award for sustained excellence for his work Off-Broadway.

Robert Wierzel is an American lighting designer.

Santo Richard Loquasto is an American production designer, scenic designer, and costume designer for stage, film, and dance.

Patricia Zipprodt was an American costume designer. She was known for her technique of painting fabrics and thoroughly researching a project's subject matter, especially when it was a period piece. During a career that spanned four decades, she worked with such Broadway theatre legends as Jerome Robbins, Harold Prince, Gower Champion, David Merrick, and Bob Fosse.

Paule Constable is a British lighting designer. She won the 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2013 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design. She was also a nominee for four further productions and for a 2007 Tony Award on Broadway. In 2011 she won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a play for War Horse.

Roger Morgan is a pioneer in the world of theatre design consulting. He became interested in theatre architecture while a student at Carnegie Mellon University, and worked as an assistant to the scenic designer Jo Mielziner who became the primary influence on his career. He is the Tony Award-winning lighting designer of over 200 plays on and off Broadway and in resident theatres. He founded Sachs Morgan Studio in 1976 to provide comprehensive theatre planning and design services to the performing arts community.

Ann Hould-Ward is an American costume designer, primarily for the theatre and dance. She has designed the costumes for 19 Broadway productions. She won the 1994 Tony Award for Beauty and the Beast.

Ronald Bates was an American ballet lighting designer, particularly for the New York City Ballet.

Allen Moyer is an American set designer particularly known for his work in operas and Broadway musicals. He grew up in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania After two years at Albright College, he transferred to Pennsylvania State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree followed by a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts where he studied with Oliver Smith and John Conklin. His designs have appeared in celebrated productions at the New York City Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the Seattle Opera. He notably staged the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath at the Minnesota Opera in 2007. He designed his first set for the Metropolitan Opera for their new production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice which premiered on May 2, 2007.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to stagecraft:

Tony Straiges is a scenic designer for the stage and ballet. He has designed the sets for 17 Broadway musicals, plays and specials. His sets "often have a sparse elegance or sense of fantasy about them." Robert Brustein said of Straiges: "Today, he is considered one of the visual poets of the stage." Straiges attended Yale University.

Sean Kenny was an Irish theatre and film scenic designer, costume designer, lighting designer and director.

Kevin Dreyer is an American lighting designer of dance, theatre, opera and film, Associate professor of Theatre at the University of Notre Dame and resident lighting designer for the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. Dreyer is also a dance lighting reconstructor for the works of Gerald Arpino, Moses Pendleton and Kurt Jooss.


  1. some sources, such as the biography at the New York Public Library, state 1928
  2. "Thomas Skelton Papers, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library, "Biographical Note", accessed May 26, 2009
  3. Credits at ABT, accessed May 26, 2009
  4. 1 2 Credits and biography, accessed May 26, 2009
  5. Dunning, Jennifer. "Thomas Skelton, Lighting Designer, Is Dead at 66", The New York Times, August 10, 1994