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Thomas R. Skelton, one of the most distinguished lighting designers in America, designed the lighting for many Broadway productions, including The King and I, Guys and Dolls, Coco, Gigi, Purlie, A Matter of Gravity, Death of a Salesman (both the Dustin Hoffman and George C. Scott revivals), Absurd Person Singular, Jimmy Shine, Caesar and Cleopatra, Mike Downstairs, Your Own Thing, Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, Shenandoah, Lena Horne, the Lady and Her Music, The Kingfisher, Westside Waltz and revivals of Oklahoma!, Peter Pan, Brigadoon and The King and I. He also designed lighting for numerous productions at the Circle in the Square, Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Shakespeare Festival. Skelton received Tony nominations for Indians and All God’s Chillun Got Wings.
For the ballet stage, he illuminated Jerome Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering, Robert Joffrey’s Astarte, Heinz Poll’s Scenes From Childhood, Jose Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane, Paul Taylor’s Aureole, Martha Graham’s Rite of Spring, Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table, Gerald Arpino’s Kettantanz, Leonide Massine’s Parade and numerous other ballets for The Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, The Feld Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Paul Taylor Dance Company, Nureyev and Friends, and the Ohio Ballet.
He designed the lighting for American Ballet Theatre’s productions of John Neumeier’s Hamlet Connotations (1976), Antony Tudor’s The Tiller in the Fields (1978), Eliot Feld’s Variations on ‘America’ (1981), Peter Anastos’s Clair de lune (1982), Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet (1965) and The Sleeping Beauty (1987), Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend (1989 revival), Coppélia (1991 revival, with original staging by Arthur Saint-Leon and choreography by Enrique Martinez), Nicholas Beriosoff’s staging of The Firebird (1992), Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon (1993), the revival of David Blair’s staging of Swan Lake (1993) and Kevin McKenzie’s production of The Nutcracker (1993).
Skelton taught at the New York Studio and Forum of Stage Design and at Yale University. He served on the Board of DANCE/USA and was the Associate Director for the Ohio Ballet, which ran in Akron, Ohio until 2006. Skelton died in August 1994, aged 66.