Margie Heymann, a consultant to Rosco, has written a piece about the legendary lady of lighting titled “Lighting Through The Glass Ceiling: Reflections on Tharon Musser.” The three-time Tony Award winner was definitely a legend in her day, and designers today defer to her impeccable sense of design and color, at a time when the technology of today was just beginning to develop, allowing Musser the opportunity to use the first computer board on A Chorus Line…but that's another story!
“When I called on Tharon,” says Heymann, who worked for Rosco at the time, “stage lighting technology was changing—lamps were hotter and like most designers, she had her favorite Roscolene colors that needed reformulating into the more heat resistant base of Roscolux. She needed to make sure that her hit shows—the ones that were always in production, like A Chorus Line —had the same color consistency. Together we created several Roscolux colors, including: R56 Gypsy Lavender, a tribute to the dancers in “The Line,” R05 Rose Tint, a historic color from across the Atlantic, and R96 Lime, an almost dayglo Roscolene color that Tharon used in the Neal Simon trilogy that began with Brighton Beach Memoirs. The tradition of working with Tharon Musser to create new colors continued after I stopped calling on her—notably, R365 Tharon Delft Blue.”
Heymann goes on to say about Musser: “She often said that sometimes designers specified too much equipment and just made mush on stage, or what she called 'supermarket lighting. You don’t see a point of view on stage, just mush.' She believed in solving the technical problems at her drafting board – not by adding a lot of equipment to cover mistakes. On the subject of color, about which we had many discussions, she wrote in a brochure that we prepared, “it has to look right—it has to reflect your taste. If the color doesn’t look right on stage, just change it.'"
Here is some of Live Design’s coverage of Musser, who passed away eight years ago this month at the age of 84 in 2009, leaving quite a legacy in her wake. So it seems the perfect time to remember her: