Tharon Musser

Designer, Performer

Female

Born: January 8, 1925

Died: April 19, 2009
Newtown, Connecticut

Tharon Musser, who won Tony Awards for Best Lighting Design for the landmark shows Follies, A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls, died April 19, 2009, after a long illness. She was 84. Ms. Musser was born on Jan. 8, 1925, and designed dozens of Broadway shows, garnering ten Tony nominations in all. Her Broadway debut was auspicious enough; it was the original 1956 staging of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. She followed that up with such shows as a double bill of Ionesco's The Chairs and The Lesson; The Entertainer; J.B.; Once Upon a Mattress.

Obituary: In the 1960s, she was often connected to serious-minded revivals suchs as Mother Courage and Peer Gynt, and new Edward Albee plays like A Delicate Balance. That changed somewhat after she designed the lighting for the hit 1970 musical Applause. Thereafter, she forged strong connections to leading musical theatre figures such as Stephen Sondheim (Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures), Jerry Herman (Mack & Mabel), John Kander and Fred Ebb (The Act) and, perhaps most importantly, director Michael Bennett. For Bennett, she designed lights for A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls and Ballroom. A Chorus Line was the first Broadway production to utilize a completely computerized lighting console instead of the manually operated "piano boards."

She was also lighting designer of the hit musicals The Boyfriend, The Wiz and 42nd Street.

Another long collaboration was with playwright Neil Simon and his various directors, more often Gene Saks, with whom she worked on California Suite, Chapter Two, I Ought to Be in Pictures, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers, Jake's Women and Laughter on the 23rd Floor.

Ms. Musser's final lighting design was for The Lonesome West in 1999. Her famous lighting for A Chorus Line was recreated by Natasha Katz for the recent Broadway revival.

She is survived by her long-time partner Marilyn Rennagel.

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - A Chorus Line A Chorus Line
Oct. 5, 2006 - Aug. 17, 2008
Original Production Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Lonesome West The Lonesome West
Apr. 27, 1999 - Jun. 13, 1999
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Uncle Vanya Uncle Vanya
Feb. 23, 1995 - Mar. 19, 1995
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Laughter on the 23rd Floor Laughter on the 23rd Floor
Nov. 22, 1993 - Aug. 27, 1994
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Goodbye Girl The Goodbye Girl
Mar. 4, 1993 - Aug. 15, 1993
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Jake's Women Jake's Women
Mar. 24, 1992 - Oct. 25, 1992
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Secret Garden The Secret Garden
Apr. 25, 1991 - Jan. 3, 1993
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Lost in Yonkers Lost in Yonkers
Feb. 21, 1991 - Jan. 3, 1993
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Artist Descending a Staircase Artist Descending a Staircase
Nov. 30, 1989 - Dec. 31, 1989
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Welcome to the Club Welcome to the Club
Apr. 13, 1989 - Apr. 22, 1989
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Rumors Rumors
Nov. 17, 1988 - Feb. 24, 1990
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Teddy & Alice Teddy & Alice
Nov. 12, 1987 - Jan. 17, 1988
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Dreamgirls Dreamgirls
Jun. 28, 1987 - Nov. 29, 1987
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Month of Sundays A Month of Sundays
Apr. 16, 1987 - Apr. 18, 1987
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Broadway Bound Broadway Bound
Dec. 4, 1986 - Sep. 25, 1988
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Jerry's Girls Jerry's Girls
Dec. 18, 1985 - Apr. 20, 1986
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Odd Couple The Odd Couple
Jun. 11, 1985 - Feb. 23, 1986
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Biloxi Blues Biloxi Blues
Mar. 28, 1985 - Jun. 28, 1986
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Open Admissions Open Admissions
Jan. 29, 1984 - Feb. 12, 1984
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Real Thing The Real Thing
Jan. 5, 1984 - May 12, 1985
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Private Lives Private Lives
May 8, 1983 - Jul. 17, 1983
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Brighton Beach Memoirs Brighton Beach Memoirs
Mar. 27, 1983 - May 11, 1986
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Merlin Merlin
Feb. 13, 1983 - Aug. 7, 1983
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Special Occasions Special Occasions
Feb. 7, 1982 - Feb. 7, 1982
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Dreamgirls Dreamgirls
Dec. 20, 1981 - Aug. 11, 1985
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The 35th Annual Tony Awards - 1981 The 35th Annual Tony Awards - 1981
Jun. 7, 1981 - Jun. 7, 1981
Participating Artist Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Moony Shapiro Songbook The Moony Shapiro Songbook
May 3, 1981 - May 3, 1981
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Fools Fools
Apr. 6, 1981 - May 9, 1981
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - 42nd Street 42nd Street
Aug. 25, 1980 - Jan. 8, 1989
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Roast The Roast
May 8, 1980 - May 11, 1980
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - I Ought to Be in Pictures I Ought to Be in Pictures
Apr. 3, 1980 - Jan. 11, 1981
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Children of a Lesser God Children of a Lesser God
Mar. 30, 1980 - May 16, 1982
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Whose Life Is It Anyway? Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Feb. 24, 1980 - May 18, 1980
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Last Licks Last Licks
Nov. 20, 1979 - Dec. 1, 1979
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Romantic Comedy Romantic Comedy
Nov. 8, 1979 - Oct. 18, 1980
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The 1940's Radio Hour The 1940's Radio Hour
Oct. 7, 1979 - Jan. 6, 1980
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Whose Life Is It Anyway? Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Apr. 17, 1979 - Oct. 27, 1979
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - They're Playing Our Song They're Playing Our Song
Feb. 11, 1979 - Sep. 6, 1981
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Ballroom Ballroom
Dec. 14, 1978 - Mar. 24, 1979
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Tribute Tribute
Jun. 1, 1978 - Dec. 2, 1978
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Chapter Two Chapter Two
Dec. 4, 1977 - Dec. 9, 1979
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Act The Act
Oct. 29, 1977 - Jul. 1, 1978
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - California Suite California Suite
Jun. 10, 1976 - Jul. 2, 1977
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
May 4, 1976 - May 8, 1976
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Pacific Overtures Pacific Overtures
Jan. 11, 1976 - Jun. 27, 1976
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Me and Bessie Me and Bessie
Oct. 22, 1975 - Dec. 5, 1976
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Chorus Line A Chorus Line
Jul. 25, 1975 - Apr. 28, 1990
Lighting Designer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Same Time, Next Year Same Time, Next Year
Mar. 14, 1975 - Sep. 3, 1978
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Wiz The Wiz
Jan. 5, 1975 - Jan. 28, 1979
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Good News Good News
Dec. 23, 1974 - Jan. 4, 1975
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - God's Favorite God's Favorite
Dec. 11, 1974 - Mar. 22, 1975
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Mack & Mabel Mack & Mabel
Oct. 6, 1974 - Nov. 30, 1974
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Scapino Scapino
Sep. 27, 1974 - Mar. 2, 1975
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Candide Candide
Mar. 10, 1974 - Jan. 4, 1976
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Good Doctor The Good Doctor
Nov. 27, 1973 - May 25, 1974
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Sondheim: A Musical Tribute Sondheim: A Musical Tribute
Mar. 11, 1973 - Mar. 11, 1973
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Little Night Music A Little Night Music
Feb. 25, 1973 - Aug. 3, 1974
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Sunshine Boys The Sunshine Boys
Dec. 20, 1972 - Apr. 21, 1974
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Don Juan Don Juan
Dec. 11, 1972 - Jan. 13, 1973
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Great God Brown The Great God Brown
Dec. 10, 1972 - Jan. 13, 1973
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Creation of the World and Other Business The Creation of the World and Other Business
Nov. 30, 1972 - Dec. 16, 1972
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Night Watch Night Watch
Feb. 28, 1972 - Jun. 10, 1972
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Prisoner of Second Avenue The Prisoner of Second Avenue
Nov. 11, 1971 - Sep. 29, 1973
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - On the Town On the Town
Oct. 31, 1971 - Jan. 1, 1972
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Trial of the Catonsville Nine The Trial of the Catonsville Nine
Jun. 2, 1971 - Jun. 26, 1971
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Follies Follies
Apr. 4, 1971 - Jul. 1, 1972
Lighting Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Boy Friend The Boy Friend
Apr. 14, 1970 - Jul. 18, 1970
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Applause Applause
Mar. 30, 1970 - Jul. 27, 1972
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Blood Red Roses Blood Red Roses
Mar. 22, 1970 - Mar. 22, 1970
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Gingham Dog The Gingham Dog
Apr. 23, 1969 - Apr. 26, 1969
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Fig Leaves Are Falling The Fig Leaves Are Falling
Jan. 2, 1969 - Jan. 6, 1969
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Maggie Flynn Maggie Flynn
Oct. 23, 1968 - Jan. 5, 1969
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Lovers
Jul. 25, 1968 - Nov. 30, 1968
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
    Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Everything in the Garden Everything in the Garden
Nov. 29, 1967 - Feb. 10, 1968
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Promise The Promise
Nov. 14, 1967 - Dec. 2, 1967
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - After the Rain After the Rain
Oct. 9, 1967 - Dec. 2, 1967
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Birthday Party The Birthday Party
Oct. 3, 1967 - Jan. 20, 1968
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Tonight at 8:30
May 3, 1967 - May 13, 1967
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
    Lighting Design
(Original)
 
    Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Touch of the Poet A Touch of the Poet
May 2, 1967 - May 13, 1967
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Imaginary Invalid The Imaginary Invalid
May 1, 1967 - May 13, 1967
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Hallelujah, Baby! Hallelujah, Baby!
Apr. 26, 1967 - Jan. 13, 1968
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Delicate Balance A Delicate Balance
Sep. 22, 1966 - Jan. 14, 1967
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Mame Mame
May 24, 1966 - Jan. 3, 1970
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Lion in Winter The Lion in Winter
Mar. 3, 1966 - May 21, 1966
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Great Indoors The Great Indoors
Feb. 1, 1966 - Feb. 5, 1966
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Malcolm Malcolm
Jan. 11, 1966 - Jan. 15, 1966
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Minor Miracle Minor Miracle
Oct. 7, 1965 - Oct. 9, 1965
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Flora, the Red Menace Flora, the Red Menace
May 11, 1965 - Jul. 24, 1965
Lighting Designer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - All in Good Time All in Good Time
Feb. 18, 1965 - Mar. 27, 1965
Lighting and American Production Supervisor
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Kelly Kelly
Feb. 6, 1965 - Feb. 6, 1965
Lighting Designer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Alfie! Alfie!
Dec. 17, 1964 - Jan. 2, 1965
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Golden Boy Golden Boy
Oct. 20, 1964 - Mar. 5, 1966
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Crucible The Crucible
Apr. 6, 1964 - May 2, 1964
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Seagull The Seagull
Apr. 5, 1964 - May 2, 1964
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Any Wednesday Any Wednesday
Feb. 18, 1964 - Jun. 26, 1966
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Marathon '33 Marathon '33
Dec. 22, 1963 - Feb. 1, 1964
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Here's Love Here's Love
Oct. 3, 1963 - Jul. 25, 1964
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage and Her Children
Mar. 28, 1963 - May 11, 1963
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Andorra Andorra
Feb. 9, 1963 - Feb. 16, 1963
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Nowhere to Go But Up Nowhere to Go But Up
Nov. 10, 1962 - Nov. 17, 1962
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Calculated Risk Calculated Risk
Oct. 31, 1962 - May 11, 1963
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Giants, Sons of Giants Giants, Sons of Giants
Jan. 6, 1962 - Jan. 13, 1962
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Garden of Sweets The Garden of Sweets
Oct. 31, 1961 - Oct. 31, 1961
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Tumbler The Tumbler
Feb. 24, 1960 - Feb. 27, 1960
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
The Long Dream
Feb. 17, 1960 - Feb. 20, 1960
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Peer Gynt Peer Gynt
Jan. 12, 1960 - Feb. 7, 1960
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Five Finger Exercise Five Finger Exercise
Dec. 2, 1959 - Oct. 1, 1960
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Only in America Only in America
Nov. 19, 1959 - Dec. 12, 1959
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Great God Brown The Great God Brown
Oct. 6, 1959 - Nov. 1, 1959
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Once Upon a Mattress Once Upon a Mattress
May 11, 1959 - Jul. 2, 1960
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Beaux Stratagem The Beaux Stratagem
Feb. 24, 1959 - Mar. 8, 1959
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Rivalry The Rivalry
Feb. 7, 1959 - Apr. 18, 1959
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - J.B. J.B.
Dec. 11, 1958 - Oct. 24, 1959
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Shadow of a Gunman The Shadow of a Gunman
Nov. 20, 1958 - Jan. 3, 1959
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Firstborn The Firstborn
Apr. 29, 1958 - May 31, 1958
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Entertainer The Entertainer
Feb. 12, 1958 - May 10, 1958
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
The Infernal Machine
Feb. 3, 1958 - Mar. 9, 1958
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
The Chairs and The Lesson
Jan. 9, 1958 - Jan. 26, 1958
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
    Lighting Design
(Original)
 
The Makropoulos Secret
Dec. 3, 1957 - Dec. 31, 1957
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Monique Monique
Oct. 22, 1957 - Dec. 14, 1957
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Shinbone Alley Shinbone Alley
Apr. 13, 1957 - May 25, 1957
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Long Day's Journey Into Night Long Day's Journey Into Night
Nov. 7, 1956 - Mar. 29, 1958
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Did not open - Dec. 14, 1966
Lighting Design
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (22)

See more Who's Who

Awards


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1991 Outstanding Lighting Design The Secret Garden Nominee
1990 Outstanding Lighting Design Artist Descending a Staircase Nominee
1984 Outstanding Lighting Design The Real Thing Nominee
1982 Outstanding Lighting Design Dreamgirls Winner
1980 Outstanding Lighting Design Children of a Lesser God Nominee
1979 Outstanding Lighting Design Ballroom Nominee
1979 Outstanding Lighting Design They're Playing Our Song Nominee

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1982 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Dreamgirls Winner
1981 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) 42nd Street Nominee
1979 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Ballroom Nominee
1978 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) The Act Nominee
1976 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Pacific Overtures Nominee
1976 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) A Chorus Line Winner
1974 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) The Good Doctor Nominee
1973 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) A Little Night Music Nominee
1972 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Follies Winner
1970 Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Applause Nominee
 
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