After an almost three-year run, Dracula closed in early January 1980. Instead of having a fairly large weekly income, I suddenly found myself with no income at all. I needed a job. Mel Shapiro had recently taken over as chairman of the drama department at Carnegie Mellon University. When he called and asked if I would be willing to teach scene design there, I jumped at the opportunity. I had to fly to Pittsburgh for two days a week, but my salary was enough to pay for the apartment in New York.
At the end of my first year at Carnegie Mellon, I made the mistake of proposing to Mel Shapiro that we do a production of The Mikado with sets and costumes by Edward Gorey. I knew that Edward, a great fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, had long wanted to design this show, and I thought it would be ideal for a school production. Mel was in favor of the idea. At the meeting of Edward and Mel in my apartment in New York, Edward's one request was that the production be a traditional one with no gimmicks.
Mel either forgot this request or chose to disregard it. MORE...