Oliver Smith
Once, in answering a questionnaire concerning the working methods of theatre people, I was asked what Oliver Smith did while preparing for a show. I replied, "two others," and added "and a delightful six-day trip." Why do people put up with all this? Because he's just that good. They want him. Present or absent, his scenery is delivered ontime, and it works. His best scenery makes theatre history.
- Agnes de Mille
Winner of eight Tony Awards, five Donaldson Awards, New York City's Handel Medallion and numerous other honors, Oliver Smith designed for the theatre, dance, opera and film. His scenic designs for musical comedy spanned a golden age on Broadway from the 40s to the 70s, including My Fair Lady, Hello, Dolly!, West Side Story, On the Town, Brigadoon, Camelot and over sixty others; his designs for the dance included Rodeo, Fall River Legend, Les Noces, Fancy Free (and many others for American Ballet Theatre, which he co-produced for forty years with Lucia Chase); his films included Bandwagon, Guys and Dolls, and Oklahoma!; and his opera designs graced the stages of the Metropolitan and New York City Operas.

In the course of this prodigious career, Oliver Smith collaborated closely with major figures in American arts and letters, ranging from Leonard Bernstein and Agnes de Mille to Jerome Robbins, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote. His distinctly American vision illuminated the music, dance, and language of many of the most remarkable creative works produced on the twentieth century stage, and his work as a producer brought original productions by Jean Paul Sartre (No Exit) and Jane Bowles (In the Summer House), among others, to the Broadway stage. Smith's talent for choreographic movement of scenery and his chameleon-like ability to work in a wide variety of artistic styles in the service of widely differing productions found expression in his artwork: thousands of renderings and backdrop elevations executed in watercolor, dye, ink and gouache. High-quality reproductions of items included in this collection are now available at for distribution to the wider audience they deserve.
© 2002 Broadway Art Enterprises LLC. All rights reserved.
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