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LtoR: Angela Lansbury and Frankie Michaels in "Mame"
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Carol Burnett in "Once Upon a Mattress"

LtoR:Jean & William Eckart








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For Immediate Release:

University of North Texas Press
Publishes first book on the innovative Broadway designers

Andrew B. Harris to Receive Golden Pen Award
for his acclaimed book

"The Performing Set"

The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart


Andrew B. Harris, professor of dance and theatre, at the University of NorthTexas, will receive the 2007 Golden Pen Award from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology in March for his book, The Performing Set: The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart, published by UNT Press.

USITT gives the award annually to the author of an outstanding publication in the field of design and production for the performing arts. Harris will receive the award at the USITT Annual Conference and Stage Expo in Phoenix. He also will autograph copies of the book and present a conference session on the Eckarts’ work.

“There is no higher honor for a theatre book than USITT’s Golden Pen Award,” Harris says. “It confers an honor not only on The Performing Set, but also on William and Jean Eckart, the subjects of my book, whose contributions to stage and costume design might otherwise have been forgotten.”

Harris' book, published earlier this year and now in its second printing, explores the innovative work of the Eckarts, a husband-and-wife team that revolutionized Broadway musicals. The Eckarts' set designs flowed with the action of the play by moving and changing in front of the audience.

The book contains more than 500 full-color illustrations, including production stills and the Eckarts' artistic renderings. Some of the Eckarts' most famous sets include those for Damn Yankees in 1955; Once Upon a Mattress, in which Carol Burnett had her first big role in 1959; the live television production of Cinderella, featuring Julie Andrews, in 1957; and Mame, starring Angela Lansbury, in 1966.

"I am pleased that USITT has chosen Andy Harris's book for this honor. It confirms the high quality of the writing and production that went into The Performing Set," says Ron Chrisman, director of UNT Press.

Harris and the Eckarts met in 1985 when Harris served as chairman of the Southern Methodist University theatre department where the Eckarts were teaching theatre design. Harris began working on the book in 1995, two years after Jean Eckart's death in 1993, and continued his research after Bill Eckart's death in 2000 by using documents from the Eckart Collection.

Harris, who joined UNT in 2002, has served as chair of theatre departments at Columbia University, SMU and Texas Christian University. His production credits include shows in Chicago, New York and Texas, including The Life of Galileo with Laurence Luckinbill and Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer. He also wrote Broadway Theatre, which won the Broadway Theatre Institute Award for Excellence in Education.

USITT is an association of more than 3,600 design, production and technology professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry with members from the United States, Canada and 40 other countries. USITT's Golden Pen Award is integral to the institute's mission to recognize excellence and significant contributions in the performing arts and entertainment industry.

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Praise for The Performing Set:

“The show that Jean and Bill offered me gave me my big break. And so they were not just brilliant designers and producers, but also really good friends.”

—Carol Burnett, actor and star of television and Once Upon a Mattress on Broadway

“The sets for Mame were the first of the really magnificently choreographed sets. The furniture and the set pieces moved on and off without breaking the flow of the action. We never needed the curtain to come down for a change of scenery. It never stopped. Everything was just so fluid and marvelous.”

—Angela Lansbury, actor in Mame, Anyone Can Whistle, and Sweeney Todd

“Chock full of new and valuable information and which in my opinion will be an important book on the history of the American musical. I found it an excellent précis of the theatrical process and one which brilliantly shows the collaborative aspects of design.”

—Robert Taylor, curator of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

About the author:

ANDREW B. HARRIS is the author of the award-winning "Broadway Theatre" and a stage director and producer. He has chaired theatre departments at Columbia University, Texas Christian University, and Southern Methodist University, where he met William and Jean Eckart. He lives in McKinney, Texas.

Available in hardcover for $37.95
ISBN 1-57441-212-4

11 x 8 1/2. 256 pages and 521 color illustrations

Visit your local bookstore or call (800) 826-8911 to order.

University of North Texas Press

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