A look at the design nominees

Dinner at Eight

John Lee Beatty called it “the fastest show on Broadway.” Lincoln Center Theater’s “Dinner at Eight” required no fewer than nine sets from the designer.

“Each scene was a play unto itself,” says Beatty, “and the challenge was to deliver the individual plays quickly. Each set had to travel up to 60 feet just to get into place.”

“Dinner at Eight” brings Beatty his ninth nom; he won in 1980 for “Talley’s Folly.”
Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Santo Loquasto takes his seventh Tony nomination for set design with his creation of the Tyrones’ dark, fog-bound home.

“The actors took well to the claustrophobic ground plan,” Loquasto says. “With this play, they usually have a very open space, but they are literally on top of each other here.”

Also a Tony winner for costumes, Loquasto took the award in 1989 for his “Cafe Crown” set design.
La Boheme

For her Broadway debut with “La Boheme,” Catherine Martin took the basic designs from a 1992 production of the opera she and her husband, Baz Luhrmann, staged at the Sydney Opera.

“The biggest challenge was to re-examine the work that Baz and I had done 10 years ago,” says Martin. “We decided not to be self conscious about the previous design but to re-examine the philosophical basis of the original design in terms of the new circumstances, how we would bring the production out into the new space and to the new audience we were communicating with.”

Six hundred and ten circular pegs make up the huge, coruscating wall of light in “Hairspray.” The Lite Brite toy it evokes came out in 1956, the same year designer David Rockwell was born.

“It’s part of that era’s fascination with technology,” he says of the show’s early-’60s time frame.

The Lite Brite wall also allows the show to move quickly. “Jack O’Brien didn’t want any incidental music for long set changes,” Rockwell says of the show’s director. “The ability for light to change is a primary design element.”

Rockwell also designed the Broadway revival of “The Rocky Horror Show.” This is his first Tony. nominations.

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