Tony Award Winner Joins Theatre School

As newly named director of design, Broadway veteran Christopher Akerlind will oversee sets, lights and sounds for all productions.
By Tony Sherwood
Akerlind has won numerous awards for his work.

Tony Award-winning designer Christopher Akerlind, who joined the faculty this semester, has been named director of design at the USC School of Theatre, it was announced by Dean Madeline Puzo.

“We are ecstatic that Chris will be overseeing our extensive design curriculum at the School of Theatre,” Puzo said. “He will supervise all areas of design for us, including sets, costumes, lights and sound. His years of experience as a lighting and set designer on Broadway and in theatres nationally and internationally, as well as his expertise working in an academic setting. make him the ideal person to run our program.”

Said Akerlind, “I’m honored and excited to join the faculty and to take on Dean Puzo’s mission to build a design curriculum known for its creativity and intellectual rigor.”

Akerlind has designed more than 550 productions at theatre, opera and dance companies across the country and around the world.

His recent work includes the Broadway productions of 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination), Talk Radio, Well, Awake and Sing! (Tony nomination), Rabbit Hole, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and The Light in the Piazza (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards), Rinde Eckert’s Orpheus X at the Edinburgh Festival, the world premiere of Phillip Glass’ Appomattox for the San Francisco Opera, Anne Bogart’s productions of Score, Room and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Robert Woodruff’s productions of Oedipus, Olly’s Prison and Britannicus, Martha Clarke’s productions of Belle Epoch, Kaos and her revival of The Garden of Earthly Delights, Cymbeline at the Royal Shakespeare Company and a site-specific outdoor production of The Mystery Plays in Orvieto, Italy.

His extensive credits in opera include productions at the Dallas, Glimmerglass, Hamburg, Houston, Metropolitan, Minnesota, New York City, Nissei, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Seattle operas and more than 40 productions for the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, where he was resident lighting designer for 12 years.

He is the recipient of an Obie Award for sustained excellence in lighting design, the Michael Merritt Award for Design and Collaboration and numerous nominations for the Bay Area Critics, Drama Desk, Hewes, Joseph Jefferson, Kevin Kline, Lucile Lortel, NAACP, Outer Critics Circle and Tony awards.

In 1996, along with set and costume designer Anita Stewart, he was appointed co-artistic director of Portland Stage Company in the state of Maine, a post he held for three years. A graduate of Boston University and the Yale School of Drama, he was head of lighting design and director of the design and production programs at the Calarts School of Theater and has guest taught at New York University, the University of Connecticut, the Broadway Lighting Master Classes and Yale University.