The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Tony Walton

Tony Walton

Production Designer, Costume Designer, Director, Producer

Interviewed on: Thursday, April 6, 2017
Location: Mr. Walton's Home
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #96
Photo Credit: Gen LeRoy Walton
"The hardest thing for a designer, the hardest thing for any of the theatrical creative collaborators, is to keep your dream alive from the dream to the eventual delivery onstage."
Tony Walton Highlights
Video Length: 6 Minutes, 13 Seconds
Tony Walton Interview Part One
Video Length: 2 Hours, 15 Minutes
Tony Walton Interview Part Two
Video Length: 1 Hour, 54 Minutes
Tony Walton Interview Part Three
Video Length: 52 Minutes, 6 Seconds

Tony Walton, production and costume designer and director, was born in the London suburb of Walton-on-the-Thames. His father’s uncle was Sir Charles Cochran, theater producer, associated with the plays of Noel Coward. It might be fate that the first professional production Walton did, at the age of 22, Off-Broadway was CONVERSATION PIECE (1957) at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel’s Art Deco theater. Coward coincidently performing in Nude With A Violin on Broadway, was able to oversee Walton’s production and the two became friends. Walton studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. His designs for  a marionette production of The Magic Flute at Radley College were seen by the legendary British painter and stage designer, John Piper, who encouraged him to think of Scenic Design as a career, and helped him get into ‘The Slade.’  Later, the fabled lighting genius, Abe Feder, guided him into the Scenic Designers Union in New York. Walton has designed many musicals and plays for Broadway and Off-Broadway theater, films, and television. He also directs at the Irish Repertory Company in New York, and other not-for-profit theatres. His Off-Broadway credits include CANDIDA (2010), THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN (1998),HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES (1986), HURLYBURLY (1984), I’M NOT RAPPAPORT (1985), MAJOR BARBARA (1997),NOT WAVING (1997), SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (1990), STREAMERS (1976), TRANSPORT (2014), VALMOUTH (1960), WAITING FOR GODOT (1988)

Walton was the design consultant and costume designer for the movie Mary Poppins (1964) beginning a long history of film design. He became known in the American theater after designing set and costumes for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, and the sets for Pippin. He always designed both in England and America collaborating with such notables as Hal Prince, Mike Nichols, Stephen Sondheim, George Abbott, Walt Disney, Frank Loesser, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, and Larry Gelbart. He has won three Tonys: Pippin (1972), House of Blues Leaves (1986), Guys and Dolls (1992); two Drama Desk Awards:  Shelter (1973), Social Security (1986); an Emmy: Death of a Salesman (1985); and an Oscar: All That Jazz (1980). He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1991.all of Fame in 1991.

Mentioned in Interview

George Abbott, Julie Andrews, Noel Coward, Walt Disney, Bob Fosse, Larrry Gelbart, Frank Loesser, Paul Newman, Mike Nichols, Joseph Papp, Hal Prince, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Tommy Tune, Jerry Zaks, American Place Theatre, The Actors Studio, Irish Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, NYSF/The Public, Playhouse 91, Primary Stages, Promenade Theatre, The York Playhouse, CANDIDA, CONVERSATION PIECE, CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN, A FAIR COUNTRY, HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES, HURLYBURLY, I’M NOT RAPPAPORT, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST, MOONLIGHT, NOT WAVING, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, STREAMERS, WAITING FOR GODOT