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Smith, Oliver (1918-1994)

The following sources are recommended by a professor whose research specialty is theatrical designer Oliver Smith.


Six Superlative Sources

· The Internet Broadway Database. This site lists the majority of Smith's works and provides links to specific production listings, replete with detailed information.

· Larson, Orville K., ed. Scene Design for Stage and Screen. Michigan University Press, 1961. Smith's traditional approach to his craft is described in the chapter titled "Musical Comedy Design for Stage and Screen."

· Mackay, Patricia. "Designers on Designing: A Profile of Oliver Smith." Theatre Crafts, April 1982, pp. 11-19, 56-70. This issue features the work of Smith and provides a detailed account of his training, working methods, and his views on his major designs.

· Mikotowicz, Tom. Oliver Smith: A Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Press, 1993. This is the most complete work on the contributions to American performance by Smith, who was a major designer of dramas and musicals, operettas and grand operas, ballets and modern dances, and films as well as a producer of theatrical productions and co-director of American Ballet Theatre.

· Pecktal, Lynn. Designing and Painting for the Theatre. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975. There is an interview with Smith included in this general practical guide to design that clearly illustrates his approach and working methods.

· Smith, Oliver. "Ballet Design." Dance News Annual, 1953, pp. 93-102. In this essay, Smith outlines his theories of ballet design, which include the concepts of simplicity, exaggerated scale, dynamic movement, and color in design.

Other Excellent Sources

· Abbott, George. Mister Abbott. Random House, 1963. This work focuses on famous director Abbott's "play doctoring," including the out-of-town tryouts of Smith's first successful Broadway musical, On the Town.

· American Ballet Theatre. Oliver Smith. This website contains a brief biography and listing of Smith's ballet and dance works.

· DeMille, Agnes. Dance to the Piper. Little, Brown, 1952. This book, by one of America's most influential twentieth-century choreographers, details her work with designer Smith on the landmark ballet Rodeo.

· Genauer, Emily. "More Than Just Interior Decoration." Theatre Arts Magazine, June 1958, p. 19. This article gives an early account of Smith's opinion about the importance of the designer in the commercial theatre.

· Houghton, Norris. "Tomorrow Arrives Today." Theatre Arts Magazine, February 1946, p. 88. This is an early-career article about Smith that outlines his activities in music and ballet.

· Lerner, Alan Jay. On the Street Where I Live. W.W. Norton, 1978. There are humorous accounts included in this work by musical playwright Lerner of the mounting of My Fair Lady, as well as the problems encountered with the Broadway opening of Camelot.

· Loney, Glen, ed. "Putting It All Together." Musical Theatre in America Conference, 1981. Greenwood Press, 1984. Smith's opinions on the differences between 1940s Broadway and that of the 1980s is documented as part of a panel on musical theatre.

· Mikotowicz, Tom, ed. Theatrical Designers: An International Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press, 1992. This work provides a thumbnail sketch of Smith's contribution to American theatre, as well as those of his contemporaries.

· Payne, Charles. American Ballet Theatre. Alfred A. Knopf, 1978. Although there is not much material on Smith, despite his serving as a founding member and co-director of the American Ballet Theatre with Lucia Chase for several decades, this work is an extravagant description of the company and its politics, as well as its productions during Smith's tenure.

· University at Buffalo Music Library. Photographs from the J. Warren Perry Collection. This web page contains renderings and actual production photos for the Smith-designed opera Martha, performed at the Metropolitan Opera.

· Shiffman, Daniel. The Official West Side Story Site: Photographs. This fan site is dedicated to West Side Story and contains many original production photographs with Smith's sets clearly visible.

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