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Chris Parry

Craig Wolf
USITT Publications Committee

Tony Award-winning lighting designer Chris Parry died unexpectedly January 16, 2007 in San Diego, California. He was 56.

Mr. Parry headed the lighting program at the University of California-San Diego and was a highly-respected designer in regional theatre as well as on Broadway. He was also a partner in Axiom Lighting, his entertainment and architectural design firm.

Born in Manchester, England, Mr. Parry spent 13 years at the Royal Shakespeare Company, working in various capacities and learning from the best British directors and lighting professionals. He began as an electrician, became Assistant Head of Lighting, and later designer for the RSC. His first show in the United States was Les Liaisons Dangereuses which originated in the West End and then went to Broadway and was subsequently nominated for a Tony. Soon after, The Who's rock opera Tommy won the Tony Award for best lighting design -- lighting by Chris Parry.

While Mr. Parry paid his dues on Broadway, his real love was designing for regional theatre and opera where he designed more than 150 British and United States productions (Los Angeles Opera; Houston Grand Opera; Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy; South Coast Rep.; and the La Jolla Playhouse). He received the Helen Hayes Award in 2002 for Don Carlo at the Shakespeare Theatre.

During his more than 10 years at UCSD, Mr. Parry developed a passion rivaling that for lighting design -- teaching. He became a greatly admired educator and mentor to his numerous design students—many of whom have gone on to become respected designers in their own right. His memory lives on in the work of those students. His loss is a great one to American theatre design.

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Photo/Ian Britton