Praise from Reviewers and

Theatre Professionals Alike!

     “Lloyd Burlingame’s tasty memoir is that rarest of delights among Theatre Design books:   A witty combination of hard facts, and delectable anecdotes, told with great underlying affection for his chosen profession and all the stars and scallywags he encountered while perfecting his art."

Tony Walton, Set and Costume Designer for Stage & Film, Director, Illustrator

     “I laughed, I cried (no kidding), I loved it all. It deserves a place on every designer's shelf.”

Douglas W. Schmidt , Scenic Designer

     “Compelling and enlightening”

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Dean, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU

     "Vivid recollections (of a theater world that now seems almost lost) and pointed anecdotes abound as the author encounters, copes with and triumphs over the myriad pitfalls and detours of the theatrical life."

John Conklin, Set and Costume Designer, Educator


     “How lucky we are to be given a secret glimpse into each one of these productions from the perspective of a truly talented artist”

Jules Fisher, Lighting Designer, Producer, Educator

     “It's a theatre book you sip from. You can read a few wonderful stories and give yourself time to savor them before moving on. I loved the stagestruck quality of the writing, the peeks backstage through the eyes of a great designer.”

Nelle Nugent, Stage and Film Producer


     “An excellent teaching tool as well as a wonderful source for non-specialists. This is a fantastic project, and I can’t think of anyone more knowledgeable and better suited to write it.”

Arnold Aronson, Theatre Historian, Columbia University Professor

     “Former stage designer Burlingame (Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan, 2012) recalls the highs and lows of his time on Broadway.

     'Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly and I had to design,' the author confides in the opening chapter of this elegant, amusing memoir. In 1940, when he was 5 years old, his father took him to see a performance of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Mikado, after which the author returned home to build his own version of a Japanese garden in a shoe box. His destiny was set, and in his teens, he studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now part of Carnegie Mellon University), drawn there by its prestigious drama department. By 19, he’d taken over set design at the acclaimed Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The author recounts many humorous calamities during this period of developing his skills; for example, during a production of W. Somerset Maugham’s Rain, a beaded curtain made of macaroni fell gradually in pieces to the floor, leaving the actors crunching hard pasta underfoot. In 1956, Burlingame was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the Signal Corps’ Army Pictorial Center in Queens, N.Y., but he received a reprieve from duty in Korea, which allowed him to begin a dazzling career on Broadway. He details his Manhattan beginnings, during which he set up a makeshift scene shop in a Greenwich Village warehouse using tools from the Army. Much of the book reads like a Who’s Who of 1960s and ’70s theater, with appearances by such luminaries as Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli and English theater director Peter Brook. One pull-no-punches chapter is devoted to the author’s work with the "devil of Broadway,"

producer David Merrick. These accounts of grand collaborations are skillfully nuanced with moments of devotion and humility; at one point, for example, the author was forced to search the Bowery at night for plans he had lost, and when he kneeled in a snow-filled gutter, he was hit by a car. Overall, Burlingame is a skillful raconteur who transposes his experiences to the page with an understated wit, poise and grace.

     A consistently intriguing backstage glimpse of Broadway’s brighter past and a must for theater buffs.”

Kirkus Review

     “If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of the bright lights of Broadway, you really need to get your hands on Lloyd Burlingame's memoir. Set, Lights,& Lunacy is the fascinating tale of Lloyd's experience as a stage designer on Broadway.

     From the now-classic tale of a bad director who hates your work and tells you you'll never succeed in the business, to hilarious stories of stage and design mishaps in famous productions, there is a whole lot of awesome within the pages of Sets, Lights, and Lunacy. You experience the rise of a spectacular career, and I'm surprised this book, or something similar, hasn't been made into a movie yet. Lloyd really has the skills to bring you into his world. I am NOT very creative, so the thought of designing sets and creating an entire stage design was completely foreign to me. Still, Lloyd was able to capture the ideas in a less technical way so that the layman could understand and it really painted an excellent picture of life backstage.

While many memoirs can seem a little boring, Lloyd's memoir is pure genius. He reveals a side of the stage that never gets any screen time. It's both educational and entertaining with a core of heartfelt and sentimental regard for life in the theatre.

     Fiction fans and memoir aficionados alike will really appreciate this story and its timeless depiction of the stage is a truly satisfying read.”

Katelyn Hensel for Readers’ Favorite

     “Love Broadway? Love the opera? Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes? In his new book about his life as a stage designer, author Lloyd Burlingame gives the reader an inside look at the stars, directors, producers, investors, and just about everybody else involved in the business.

     Burlingame begins his story sharing his love of the theatre with the reader, and explaining how his love of the stage began at a very early age. His first job, at the tender age of twelve, was to clean the horse stables on the ground floor of a summer theatre. Eventually it was time for college where he learned his trade, then off to the military, and then, more study in Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship. Back home in New York, Burlingame quickly found employment working as a staff designer for CBS. But his real love was Broadway and that's where he soon landed his dream job of working as an assistant for designer Jo Meilziner.

Burlingame chronicles his career from the early 60s, through the late 80s when a medical condition required that he slow down. (I suspect, however, that while Burlingame may have slowed down a bit, the theatre was in his blood so he never completely left.) During those decades, the author was able to realize his goals of creating scenery, lighting, and costumes for some of the most well-known plays on Broadway, and almost realizing all his goals for the opera, that of "designing all the mature Mozart operas."

     Honored in 2012 with the Robert Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Design, Burlingame has built an amazing career within his two loves - Broadway and the opera. His talent was widely known and kept him very busy and thus there is a lot for him to tell in his book. Story upon story about the crazy, funny, odd, and sometimes heartwarming exploits of a stage designer's life, fill this book to the rafters. His dedication was proved early on while in the Army when he needed four days to finish the scenery for an off-Broadway play. When he learned that having a wisdom tooth pulled would get him a day off, and gosh, he had four of them, he talked to his dentist friend and viola, he had his needed four days. That's dedication! Indeed, there are so many stories within the pages of this memoir that it's hard to choose a few to mention. There's the lesson of what happens when dry ice used to simulate fog doesn't cooperate, how to make a theatre completely dark for a scene when there are two bright exit signs that cannot be removed keeping the room lit, discussing wardrobe with Roddy McDowall, or dealing with an actor whose thick Irish accent made it impossible for others to understand him. If you love the theatre, there's no doubt you'll enjoy Sets, Lights, & Lunacy.”

Holly Connors for Feathered Quill Book Review

     "Nicely illustrated with occasional full color images of stage sets, Lloyd Burlingame's "Sets, Lights, and Lunacy, A Stage Designer's Adventures on Broadway and in Opera" is an informative and fascinating insider's story from behind the scenes as to what it is like for a stage designer to put on Broadway theatrical shows and first class productions of operas for a discerning audiences and demanding directors. The anecdotal stories are especially fascinating reading, making ""Sets, Lights, and Lunacy, A Stage Designer's Adventures on Broadway and in Opera" highly recommended reading for theatre students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in contemporary performing arts productions. A welcome addition to academic and community library Theatrical Studies collections, it should also be noted that "Sets, Lights, and Lunacy, A Stage Designer's Adventures on Broadway and in Opera" is available in a Kindle edition ($7.99) as well."

Midwest Book Review