Many of Mr. Gleason's early efforts were for productions of the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center, when the institution was young and under the direction of Jules Irving. Among his first plays there were Saint Joan and The Alchemist.
He would go on to direct commercial Broadway productions such as The Great White Hope, Cop-Out, We Bombed in New Haven, Over Here! and Two by Two. His peak years were the early '70s, when he lit an average of five Broadway shows a year. His final Broadway credit was 1983's The Guys in the Truck, a bomb that lasted a single performance. Mr. Gleason also worked regionally at the Mark Taper Forum and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.
According to the Times, Mr. Gleason was known for his use of color. He developed a theory about "how to use colors to shape things in a three dimensional way on the stage. He changed the way theatre designers think about color," lighting designer Clifton Tailor told the Times.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Gleason discovered lighting as a student at Stuyvesant High School. At Hunter College he lit 75 shows. After he graduated, designer David Hays hired him to assist on a production of The Changeling, directed by Elia Kazan for the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center, according to Lighting Dimensions. In 1968, he became resident lighting designer at Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center. That same year, he began the first of many seasons as the lighting designer at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, CT.
According to Lighting Dimension, Mr. Gleason began to become disenchanted with commercial theatre in the late '70s. As a result, he spent his last working years lighting operas for companies across the nation, as well as the New York City Opera, across the Lincoln Center plaza from the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, his late haunt. Mr. Gleason is survived by his partner, William M. Kradlak, and a sister, Maryann Di Blasi.