Best Stage Design - 2001
This past season, every time a set caught the eye as aesthetically pleasing or clever, it was inevitably one of Rich Simone's creations. Simone's sets always seem to help bridge the gap between the audience and the actors, using the stage not only as a meeting point but also as a point of departure. Most recently his specialty seemed to be setting the mood for licentiousness, adultery, and other forms of sexual high jinks, as he did in Things We Do for Love and The Real Thing. In Things We Do for Love Simone created a three-story home perfect for the bawdy upstairs-downstairs humor that British playwright Alan Ayckbourn had in mind when he wrote this farce about a nymphomaniac, a soon-to-be spinster, a drunkard, and a vegetarian. Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing had a more sophisticated design (clean lines and streamlined contemporary furnishings) for this more erudite group of lovers (also British, come to think of it). Simone cleverly made use of upstage space to depict the playwright's play within a play. You could say he has a Thing for stage design.