JOHN ARNONE, TONY AWARD winning set designer, began his distinguished career in 1976 with Jack Heifner’s, VANITIES directed by Garland Wright. VANITIES ran for an unprecedented five years off Broadway and launched the career of Academy Award winning actress Kathy Bates. Subsequent performances in Chicago and Los Angeles featured Sandy Duncan, Luci Arnez, Stockard Channing and Elizabeth Ashley.
As a founding member of New York’s Lion Theatre Company, he designed numerous critically acclaimed productions including MUSIC HALL SIDELIGHTS featuring Kathy Bates as Colette and K: IMPRESSIONS OF KAFKA’S THE TRIAL for which he received his first OBIE AWARD.
Forging a professional relationship with the legendary producer Joseph Papp of New York’s Public Theater he delighted critics and audiences with his designs for Len Jenkin’s NEW JERUSALEM starring Sigourney Weaver, JoAnne Akalaitis’ RED & BLUE, MY UNCLE SAM, Keith Reddin’s RUM & COKE, AMERICAN NOTES, James Lapine’s production of A WINTER’S TALE starring Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Reeve, Kevin Kline’s HAMLET, Tony Kushner’s BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY, PERICLES starring Campbell Scott, George C. Wolfe’s TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, 1992 with Anna Deavere Smith, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE and Vanessa Redgrave’s ANTONY & CLEOPATRA. It was in this period of his career that he received his second OBIE AWARD for sustained achievement in the theater.
In 1979 Mr. Arnone made his Broadway debut with James McLure’s LONE STAR/PVT WARS starring Powers Boothe and Jack Heifner’s, PATIO/PORCH starring Fannie Flagg.
He has worked with every artistic director in major repertory theaters across the United States: in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s at Studio Arena, Indiana Rep, Syracuse Stage, The Huntington Theater, The Hartford Theater, American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, The Seattle Rep, The Folger Theater, and Steppenwolf for Gary Sinise in Chicago.
At Arena Stage in Washington, DC, he and Garland Wright redefined theater in the round with productions of GOOD PERSON OF SETZUAN, THE IMAGINARY INVALID, HAPPY END, THE PIGGY BANK, and THE TEMPEST.
They continued their celebrated collaboration when Garland Wright became artistic director of the famed Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis offering Minnesotans, MARAT/SADE, THE PIGGY BANK, FRANKENSTEIN, CANDIDE, K: IMPRESSIONS OF KAFKA’S THE TRIAL, and Rodgers & Hart’s BABES IN ARMS.
In 1984 he was introduced to Des McAnuff and their journey to Broadway began. Their collaboration at La Jolla Playhouse resulted in over fifteen productions ranging from Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov and new works. Their return to Broadway in 1993 with THE WHO’S TOMMY resulted in five Tony Awards including Best Set Design for Mr. Arnone. They followed with the revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING which won a Tony Award for its star Matthew Broderick.
After its successful run on Broadway, THE WHO’S TOMMY toured the United States, played London’s Shaftsbury Theater and was seen by thousands in Frankfurt, Germany. It then launched its UK and European tours with productions in Japan and Australia following in the year 2000.
Mr. Arnone’s set designs for THE WHO’S TOMMY, won for him every prestigious theater award including The Tony Award, The Drama Critics Award, The Outer Critics Circle Award, The Los Angeles Critics Award, Canada’s Dora Mavor Moore Award and an Olivier nomination.
Mr. Arnone’s designs for Broadway include THE WHO’S TOMMY, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES,1992, SACRILEGE with Ellen Burstyn, Tommy Tune’s productions of BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE GOES PUBLIC, the long running revival of GREASE with Rosie O’Donnell, Chris Durang’s SEX & LONGING starring Sigourney Weaver, Edward Albee’s THE GOAT, FORTUNE’S FOOL directed by Arthur Penn, THE FULL MONTY, MARLENE starring Sian Phillips, THE DEEP BLUE SEA with Blythe Danner, PATIO/PORCH, LONE STAR/PVT WARS, MINNELLI ON MINNELLI, Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN, Arthur Miller’s THE RIDE DOWN MT MORGAN, and LENNON, The Musical.
He has also collaborated with Tom Hulce on the adaptation of John Irving’s CIDER HOUSE RULES which received its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 1998. Recently, he designed the ballet of OTHELLO for Lar Lubovitch at the Norwegian National Ballet and ARTEMIS for ABT. Mr. Arnone is co-authoring with Liza Minnelli a biography of Vincente Minnelli featuring his set designs for Radio City Music Hall and numerous revues with the Schuberts in the 1930’s.
Other artists with who he has collaborated include JoAnne Akalaitis, Edward Albee, Bob Balaban, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kathy Bates, Michael Bennett, Eric Bogosian, Matthew Broderick, Blair Brown, Joe Dowling, Christopher Durang, David Esbjornson, Robert Falls, Spalding Gray, Jack Heifner, Len Jenkin, Patrick Kelly, Kevin Kline, Mark Lamos, James Lapine, Lindsay Law, Lar Lubovitch, Des McAnuff, Ethan McSweeney, Bette Midler, Arthur Miller, Bill Moyers, Mike Nichols, Jack O’Brien, Sharon Ott, Joseph Papp, Arthur Penn, Penn and Teller, Carey Perloff, Vanessa Redgrave, Steve Reich, Bartlett Sher, Gary Sinese, Don Scardino, Anna Deveare Smith, Twyla Tharp, Gary Trudeau, Tommy Tune, Jack Venza, Sigourney Weaver, George C. Wolfe, and Garland Wright.
Film design includes ME & VERONICA for Don Scardino, SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL for John McNaughton, PENN & TELLER GET KILLED for Arthur Penn, and DEAD END KIDS for JoAnne Akalaitis. He art directed the last fifteen episodes of THE DAYS & NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD, TALKING WITH for Kathy Bates, URBAN ANXIETY for Bob Balaban, MONDO BEYONDO for Bette Midler, Kevin Kline’s HAMLET for Great Performances, HYDE IN HOLLYWOOD for Jerry Gutierrez, and TERRORS OF PLEASURE for Spalding Gray.