... a love story    

by Lloyd Burlingame    

Lloyd Burlingame:  Biography

Lloyd Burlingame, scenery, lighting and costume designer, educator, fine artist and author, designed his first summer stock set at age 12, and at age 25 designed his first Broadway musical (scenic and lighting design), an out of town flop, Lionel Bart’s Lock Up Your Daughters. His first show Off Broadway, Leave it to Jane, a Jerome Kern musical (scenic design), was a hit and more than two years. His favorite Off Broadway production, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (scenic design), was designed simultaneously with a season of plays for the Association of Producing Artists, the brain child of director/actor Ellis Rabb. Burlingame designed scenery, lighting and costumes for five productions for APA. He then provided all three design functions on Broadway for Philadelphia, Here I Come! For producer David Merrick, he designed a total of 13 plays on Broadway, not to mention serving as chief scenic and lighting assistant on three major musicals for that same producer.


Mozart operas were the true love of his life, and he designed eight productions of that genius’s works, the bulk of them for Maestro George Schick at the Manhattan School of Music’s John Brownlee Opera Theatre. He also had the privilege of designing a combination of scenery, lights and/or costumes for major opera companies: new productions for divas Joan Sutherland in Boston, Leontyne Price in San Francisco, Beverly Sills, also in Boston and Martina Arroyo in Cincinnati.


Ten years into his New York career, opportunity knocked, offering the chance to redesign the NYU School of the Arts fledgling Design Department. With colleagues Oliver Smith and Fred Voelpel he created a school to nourish the individual talents of young designers by exposing them to a wide variety of design teachers, all of whom were working professionals.


After more than twenty years of busily designing on Broadway, Off Broadway, regionally and in opera, he turned all the design skills he had learned into coping with the gradual loss of almost all of his vision. As his sight went ‘down on dimmer’, he turned to painting very large canvases and designing huge fabric collages, which had a major one man show at the Wadsworth Athaeneum in Hartford. It was ‘touchable art’ and the show was called “Once More with Feeling.”  Today three of these large fabric collages are on permanent display at the downtown Morristown, NJ, Student Center of The Seeing Eye, the guide dog school of which he, Hickory ( his first guide dog) and Kemp (his present canine companion) are proud alumni.


Burlingame continues to paint vivid images, doing so now with words.  He has written two books, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan: A Love Story, and his soon to be released theatre memoir: Sets, Lights and Lunacy: A Stage Designer’s Adventures on Broadway and in Opera. He has been the recipient of two Fulbright research grants for study abroad and has been awarded emeritus status as well as the “Distinguished Teaching Medal” by New York University.  Alumni of the Design Department for Stage and Film from the 26 years Burlingame headed that school currently design nationally and internationally and have been recipients of major awards for design, including the Oscar, Tony and Emmy.  He himself received  the Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design in 2012.