Tharon Musser, Our Source


Somehow it seems appropriate that I was sitting in Nepal where there had been no electricity for days, when finally it came back on, but then the first thing I saw on the front page of the New York Times was the news about Tharon.

Tharon was one of the greatest influences on my life as a young journalist. In the beginning, of course, I was terrified to go interview her at that wonderful house on Cornelia Street. What would I say? How could I ask this goddess of light anything that wouldn't sound totally dim-witted. Johnny Gleason assured me that it would all be ok. And, of course, it was. Tharon was always funny, warm, and sharing—the source of some of the best war stories in the world.

Her influence is, without a doubt, the most significant of any lighting designer of the second half of the 20th century. I miss her (as I have for the last years of her illness). And I cherish every encounter: interviews with her and Robin Wagner and Michael Bennett, or conversations as the audience filed into Ballroom (she standing on the stage and me down in the house), and what about the glorious Dreamgirls. I'm not sure, but I might think that A Chorus Line is still the watershed and her best best ever.

In my humble opinion, dimming the lights on Broadway in her honor was not quite enough--they should have just turned them off. She was our source.

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