Chicago Sun-Times

Set designer for ‘SNL’ won 3 Tony Awards

- BY MARK KENNEDY AP Entertainm­ent Writer

NEW YORK — Eugene Lee, the sixtime Emmy Award-winning production designer for “Saturday Night Live” who won three Tony Awards for his Broadway sets, including the complicate­d, greenified Emerald City of “Wicked,” has died. He was 83.

Mr. Lee died Tuesday in Providence, Rhode Island, said Trinity Repertory Company, where he had been a resident artist since 1967 and designed sets for more than 100 production­s.

“Eugene Lee was a once-in-a-generation theater artist, one of the greatest minds to ever answer the question ‘What is theater?’” artistic director Curt Columbus said in a statement.

His numerous Broadway produc- tions include the original Stephen Sondheim musicals “Sweeney Todd” in 1979 and “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981, “Seussical” in 2001, the “Show Boat” revival of 1994-1997 and, more recently, “Amazing Grace” and “Bright Star.”

His work for the Broadway stage varied from building a seedy Chinese restaurant for David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” to spare, interlocki­ng wood frames for “The Other Place.” His most imaginativ­e work can be seen today in “Wicked,” complete with a smoke-breathing dragon, a giant fantasy clock and a bubbleblow­ing pendulum that carries a witch.

Mr. Lee designed the big clock, based on a mention in the Gregory Maguire novel, and defined his vision by creating a series of moving panels of gears and cog wheels that became the central image for the set.

Mr. Lee was the production designer on “Saturday Night Live” from the show’s premiere until his death. He also led the production design for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and the 2000 television movie “On Golden Pond,” among others. For his work in TV production design, Mr. Lee was nominated for 18 Emmys, winning six.

Mr. Lee is survived by his wife, Brooke, and their two sons.

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Eugene Lee

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