G.W. Mercier, Designer of Old Hats and Disney's Finding Nemo Musical, Dies at 66
Mercier received a Tony nomination for his work on Juan Darién.
Tony-nominated scenic and costume designer G.W. "Skip" Mercier died on March 11 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.
Born in Methuen, Massachusetts, Mercier graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Dramatic Art from the University of California at Berkeley, then earned an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, where he was inspired by Dean Lloyd Richards and was named an Oenslager Scholar.
From the time of his graduation in 1983 to his passing, Mercier designed nearly 400 productions for stages across the country. On Broadway, he created the sets and costumes for Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal's Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass, earning a Tony nomination for Best Scenic Design.
His lengthy off-Broadway résumé begins with the original production of Lanford Wilson's Lemon Sky, and includes Donald Margulies's The Loman Family Picnic, the Laura Nyro jukebox musical Eli's Comin', Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone, Bill Irwin and David Shiner's Old Hats, and Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes. He was a resident designer for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.
Mercier's designs for children include the touring show Rugrats: A Live Adventure, Nickelodeon's Eureeka's Castle, and Finding Nemo — the Musical, which opened in 2007 at Walt Disney World and played five times a day until the pandemic shutdown. He earned countless awards and nominations throughout his career, including the Bay Area Critics Award and numerous Drama Desk nominations.
Mercier felt a duty to pay forward his own early mentorship, and inspired and challenged young designers throughout a lifelong teaching career, including positions at the O'Neill and the University of Washington, Seattle. He loved teaching and developed close bonds with many of his students, to whom he emphasized clarity in visual communication and collaboration in the theater.
He is survived by his husband, Robert Frazier, children Molly and Will, grandson Jack, and brother Michael.