Ming Cho Lee, who chaired or co-chaired the design department at the Yale School of Drama for 43 years, received a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement at the 2013 Tony Awards on Sunday, June 9th.
The Shanghi-born Lee, 82, is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the highest national award given in the arts. His extensive credits include work in opera, dance, and theater around the world.
From 1962 through 1973, he was the principal designer for Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. As an architectural consultant, Lee designed theater for Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, the State University of New York at Purchase, and the University of Cincinnati.
His first Broadway gig was as technical assistant to the 1956 musical, “Happy Hunting.” His first Broadway credit as scenic designer was for 1958’s “The Infernal Machine.” Among his Broadway designs were for “Little Murders,” “The Shadow Box,” the musical “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “K2,” for which he earned a Tony Award.
Lee work has been shown in two separate retrospectives at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and in Taipei, Shanghai and Ningbo.
His numerous other awards and distinctions include a Tony Award, an Obie for sustained achievement, New York Drama Desk and New York and Los Angeles Outer Circle Critics Awards, three honorary doctorates, awards for long-term achievement from six major theater and opera organizations, membership in the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture from New York City.
See Ming Cho Lee’s acceptance speech. Cute!