was an American scenic, lighting and costume designer for stage, opera and film. He won the Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...
for Best Scenic Design twice.
Howard Bay was born in Centralia, Washington
Centralia is a city in Lewis County, Washington, United States. The population was 16,336 at the 2010 census.-History:In pioneer days, Centralia was the halfway stopover point for stagecoaches operating between the Columbia River and Seattle. In 1850, J. G. Cochran came from Missouri with his...
to parents who were teachers; his father was an art teacher. Over 50 years he designed the sets and lighting, as well as occasionally the costumes, for some 105 Broadway plays and musicals as well as operas and television shows.
Bay designed sets for the Federal Theatre Project
The Federal Theatre Project was a New Deal project to fund theatre and other live artistic performances in the United States during the Great Depression. It was one of five Federal One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration...
in New York City, for four operas for the National Orchestral Association, performed at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....
, 1939-40 and for the operas Capriccio
and Natalya Petrovna
for the New York City Opera
The New York City Opera is an American opera company located in New York City.The company, called "the people's opera" by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, was founded in 1943 with the aim of making opera financially accessible to a wide audience, producing an innovative choice of repertory, and...
Bay first designed the sets for Broadway
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...
for the play Chalk Dust
in 1936. In the field of musicals, he designed, among others, sets and lighting for Show Boat
Show Boat is a musical in two acts with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was originally produced in New York in 1927 and in London in 1928, and was based on the 1926 novel of the same name by Edna Ferber. The plot chronicles the lives of those living and working...
(1946), The Music Man
The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with...
(1957) and Finian's Rainbow
Finian's Rainbow is a musical with a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by Harburg, and music by Burton Lane. The 1947 Broadway production ran for 725 performances. Several revivals and a 1968 film version followed. A Broadway revival ran from October 8, 2009 until January 17, 2010...
(1955 [sets], 1960). He designed the original sets, lighting and costumes for Man of La Mancha
Man of La Mancha is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's seventeenth century masterpiece Don Quixote...
in 1965 and all revivals. For dramas, for example, he designed the sets and lighting for The Little Foxes
The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Set in a small town in Alabama in...
(1967), My Mother, My Father and Me
(1963), and Toys in the Attic
-Plot:Set in New Orleans following the Great Depression, it focuses on the Berniers sisters, two middle-aged spinsters who have sacrificed their own ambitions to look after their ne'er-do-well younger brother Julian, whose grandiose dreams repeatedly lead to financial disasters...
For television he was the Art director for the Fred Waring Show
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...
, 1953-55; Somerset Maugham Theatre
, CBS and NBC, 1954-56, and Mr. Broadway
, CBS, 1964.
He worked on the films The Exile
(1947) and Up in Central Park
(1948), as the production designer.
He taught theater arts at Brandeis University
Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...
for 14 years. Bay was president of United Scenic Artists for many years.
He married Ruth Jonas on November 23, 1932 and they had two children, Ellen and Timothy.
Awards and nominations
- Tony Award Best Scenic Design - Cry for Us All (nominee) (1970)
- Tony Award Best Costume Design - Man of La Mancha (nominee) (1966)
- Tony Award Best Scenic Design - Man of La Mancha (winner) (1966)
- Tony Award Best Scenic Design (Play) - Toys in the Attic (winner) (1960)