Remembering Designer Ming Cho Lee

This October, the scenic design world, Harvard students, and ballet, theater, and opera audiences everywhere lost an exceptional artist; Ming Cho Lee. While Mr. Lee’s work was renowned around the world, Seattle audiences had the opportunity to delight in his masterpieces through his longtime collaboration with Founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell. We asked Kent to share with us a bit about their partnership on some of PNB’s most arresting creations.

“Shortly after the success of the Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker, trying to decide what our next major project should be, Rico (Chiarelli) suggested that the great designer Ming Cho Lee would be great for a new Romeo and Juliet. He did caution that Ming would be difficult to acquire. I called Ming the next day and he said he would be happy to work with us. That phone call began a rich collaborative relationship that grew to include Firebird, Carmina Burana, Silver Lining and last, for the opening of McCaw Hall, a new Swan Lake. All those productions were produced in-house with our own crafts people: costume shop, scenic artists, carpenters and stage crew.

Working with Ming was not only a personal pleasure but a deeply rewarding professional experience. He inspired all of us to go above and beyond our own expectations for ourselves. The works we created together made our audience appreciate and expect nothing less than exciting and rewarding performances – fully theatrical evenings of music, dance and scenic splendor.

We thank Ming for sharing his gifts with all of us, onstage, backstage, in the orchestra pit and in the audience.

Ming Cho Lee (left) and Kent Stowell (right) take bows at the premiere of Stowell’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in 1987.

Read more about Mr. Lee’s life in theater here.

Featured photo: PNB dancers in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake with scenic design by Ming Cho Lee. ©Angela Sterling.