Tom Aston, a Designer, Teacher and Director Linked to Meadow Brook Theatre, Dead at 66

Obituaries   Tom Aston, a Designer, Teacher and Director Linked to Meadow Brook Theatre, Dead at 66
Tom Aston, a director, designer, writer and educator who helped found the theatre department at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, died June 16 after a battle with leukemia, his family announced.

Mr. Aston was 66. Although his battle with the recent leukemia diagnosis was moving in a positive direction, a lung infection developed recently, his family told members of the Detroit theatre community.

For many years, it was Mr. Aston's name that was synonymous with the once-loose undergraduate OU theatre program, which until the last decade remained in the shadow of Meadow Brook Theatre, the resident Equity theatre company on campus. His professional name for years was T. Andrew Aston. He was a designer for Meadow Brook in its early days in the late 1960s.

According to OU, Mr. Aston joined the university in 1964 and worked with the Center for the Arts, which was at that time OU's student theatre organization, directing plays and working with student actors and those interested in the technical aspects of theatre production.

For many years, there was no theatre major at OU. Eventually, his position as a director and designer was eclipsed as the department became more formalized.

At least one of the many student productions he oversaw was recognized for excellence in the national competition sponsored by the American College Theatre Festival. As a designer, he created the set for Meadow Brook Theatre's Of Mice and Men in 2003-04. The design was featured in the New York publication, Entertainment Design and cited for its ingenuity by recycling materials for economic advantage, according to Meadow Brook producer John Manfredi.

Mr. Aston was principal scenic and costume designer for the inaugural season of Meadow Brook Theatre in 1967. He would end up designing scenery, lighting or costumes for 21 MBT productions.

He worked with the OU Department of Music, Theatre and Dance as coordinator of departmental activities once the Center of the Arts merged with the department in the early 1990s.

In the Detroit area theatre community, he worked with Meadow Brook, Strand and Heartland theatres, and the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

Mr. Aston previously lived in Washington state. He was retired for less than a year and planned to spend his retirement writing plays and spending time with his family.

His wishes were to be cremated without a wake or memorial service.

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