Bob Crowley, The Invention of Love
Bob Crowley is now a seven-time Tony nominee: The Invention of Love, Aida (2), Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Capeman, The Iceman Cometh and Twelfth Night. He's won twice, for Carousel and the set design of last season's Aida. As with the latter show, Crowley designed both the sets and costumes for Invention of Love, though he's nominated solely for sets. Born in Ireland, Crowley has worked on dozens of shows for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre. Recent work includes the musical, The Witches of Eastwick. For Invention, Crowley had to create an ever shifting landscape, moving from canals in the underworld to bicycle paths at Oxford University.
Heidi Ettinger,, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Since she won a Tony for designing Big River, based on Samuel Clemens' "Huckleberry Finn," it was only fitting that Heidi Ettinger work on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In fact, her specialty seems to be family-oriented fables, since she also won a Tony for her intricate and jewel-like design of The Secret Garden. In Tom Sawyer, a winding wooden stair and balcony function as the show's focal point, whether at school, a picnic or the elaborate cave of the show's climactic chase. Ettinger's other credits include The Sound of Music revival, Triumph of Love, Smokey Joe's Cafe and Moon Over Buffalo. Her Playbill bio for Tom Sawyer mentions that her next project will be An American in Paris.
Douglas W. Schmidt, 42nd Street
Douglas W. Schmidt begins his Playbill bio with a nod to his first theatrical job: a "sensational acting debut as the Third Billy Goat Gruff in 1949." His career path eventually veered from acting — not to mention livestock — and he's since designed more than 200 shows on and Off Broadway, in regional theatres and in opera houses. His Broadway work has ranged from the leather jackets of the original Grease to the blue and grey uniforms for The Civil War to the gothic garb of Frankenstein. For 42nd Street, his designs range from almost cartoon-like colors to sleek art deco surfaces.
Robin Wagner, The Producers
Nominated last year for Kiss Me, Kate, Wagner has designed the sets for such legendary productions as Dreamgirls, 42nd Street, A Chorus Line and Angels in America. Tony nominations include Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Dreamgirls Jelly's Last Jam, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and — his only win — On The Twentieth Century. Inducted last year into the Theatre Hall of Fame, Wager is a professor of Theatre Arts at Columbia University. Wagner's costumes were also seen in the recent Saturday Night Fever and Broadway Wild Party. Analysis: Since the world is essentially going to be boxed up, giftwrapped, and handed to The Producers, look for Robin Wagner to share in the glory. His set pieces—and there are many of them—have a size and cheeriness that fit the show's big-scale musical ambitions. Tony voters will also likely have fond memories of the punny theater posters on Max Bialystock's office walls. Douglas W. Schmidt has an outside shot with 42nd Street, which needs the PR of a Tony win more than The Producers does and which relies more on sheer spectacle than The Producers needs to. Bob Crowley's work for Invention of Love will be respected and fondly remembered, but it's tough for a non-musical to compete with a splashy tuner. Heidi Ettinger's surreal design for Tom Sawyer also impressed, but whatever chance she had for a win got lost forever in the cave of the show's early closing.
— By David Lefkowitz