Bookcover: The Performing Set: The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart

The Performing Set: The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart

Andrew B. Harris — author. 
Contributors: Foreword by Carol Burnett, Preface by Sheldon Harnick
  • Finalist, George Freedley Memorial Award, The Theatre Library Association, 2006
  • Golden Pen Award, United States Institute for Theatre Technology, 2007

May, 2016




521 color illus. Notes. Bib. Index.




Paperback, Hardcover


About Harris's The Performing Set

Bill and Jean Eckart were stage designers and producers at the peak of the musical, and their designs revolutionized Broadway productions. An Eckart set became part of the performance on stage, equal at times to an actor. They were best known for their designs for Damn Yankees (1955); Once Upon a Mattress (1959), in which Carol Burnett made her Broadway debut; and Mame (1966) with Angela Lansbury. Andrew B. Harris uses production stills and the Eckarts’ sketches from every show they worked on to illustrate (with more than 500 color illustrations) the magic behind an Eckart design.

“This book is a must for anyone interested in the American theatre and its rich history.” —Theodore S. Chapin, President, Rodgers and Hammerstein

“The show that Jean and Bill offered me gave me my big break. And so they were not just brilliant designers and producers, but also really good friends.” —Carol Burnett, actor and star of television and Once Upon a Mattress on Broadway

“The sets for Mame were the first of the really magnificently choreographed sets. The furniture and the set pieces moved on and off without breaking the flow of the action. We never needed the curtain to come down for a change of scenery. It never stopped. Everything was just so fluid and marvelous.” —Angela Lansbury, actor in Mame, Anyone Can Whistle, and Sweeney Todd

“Chock full of new and valuable information and which in my opinion will be an important book on the history of the American musical. I found it an excellent précis of the theatrical process and one which brilliantly shows the collaborative aspects of design.” —Robert Taylor, curator of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

About the Author

ANDREW B. HARRIS, professor in the Department of Dance and Theatre at the University of North Texas, is the author of the award-winning Broadway Theatre and a stage director, playwright, and producer. He has chaired theatre departments at Columbia University, Texas Christian University, and Southern Methodist University, where he met William and Jean Eckart. He lives in McKinney, Texas.

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