New York State Writers Institute logo



Bookmark and Share

Eugene Lee, set designer for Wicked and Saturday Night Live

Monday, April 30Eugene Lee
4:15 p.m. -- Craft talk, Studio Theatre, Performing Arts Center, University at Albany uptown campus
7:30 p.m. -- The 22nd Annual Burian Lecture,
Studio Theatre, Performing Arts Center
Free and open to the public

Eugene Lee, legendary Broadway set designer, has won three Tony Awards for his work on Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. Lee has also served as the production designer for Saturday Night Live for more than forty years since its 1975 premiere.

Lee described his Saturday Night Live work week in an interview with "On a typical show, we probably have six or seven sets, easily. These days, it�s changing so fast�we can do whole things, and then it�s cut in a second. It has nothing to do with how good we make it look, or how complex it is; if Lorne [Michaels] isn�t happy with it, it just gets cut."

Lee has also served as set designer for late-night shows featuring SNL alums, including The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Previous Burian Lecture guests include Tina Howe, John Lahr, Harold Gould, Ruby Dee, Wallance Shawn, Michael Mayer, A.R. Gurney, Rita Moreno, and Chris Durang, among others. See the complete list of Burian Lecture guests.

The program is cosponsored by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment and UAlbany’s Theatre Program.

The late Jarka Burian taught in the Theatre Department at UAlbany from 1955 to 1993. He was the leading American scholar of Czech theatre and the author of the award-winning book The Scenography of Josef Svoboda, a seminal critical study of the work of one of the twentieth century's most influential theatrical designers. Grayce Susan Burian, who received her M.A. degree from UAlbany and also taught there, is best known for her long tenure as the director of the theatre program, which she founded, at Schenectady County Community College.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620.

The Saturday Night Live set designed by Eugene Lee.

The set of Saturday Night Live

Eugene Lee

1974. The first cold open on the first-ever episode,

1978 The famous Greek diner CHEEBURGER CHEEBURGER sketch starring John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Dan Aykroyd.

1996 Celebrity Jeopardy!

Eugene Lee, in the office of Steigelbauer Associates, looks over his set drawings for the week's show. Christian Hansen for The Village Voice

1989 Wayne's World started, in scenery, with Eugene Lee's conception of a basement.

2015 Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Taran Killam, and Peter Dinklage in Undersea Hotel. Photo by Dana Edelson NBC

Eugene Lee's sketch for the Stephen Sondheim production of Sweeney Todd in 1979

Wicked on Broadway

Wicked on Broadway

Eugene Lee stands above the Stiegelbauer Associates warehouse, where the

Eugene Lee

Eugene Lee

Eugene Lee