Lives Remembered: Roger Frith

My father, Roger Frith, was one of the most talented theatre lighting designers of his generation. He was born in Streatham, south London on 1 June 1939, and grew up in Histon, Cambridge, where he attended St Johns School. When he showed early promise as a puppeteer, his parents formed the Rogoli Puppets, which became a successful puppet company. At 17, Roger toured the country with Hogarth Puppets. He regularly operated puppets on children's television, including Muffin the Mule, which he operated on live television from Alexandra Palace.

In 1957, Roger won a scholarship to study art at Goldsmiths College, but left after a year to take up a job as assistant electrician at Sadler's Wells Opera. In 1962, he married the ballet dancer Anne Harrison; I was born in 1965, and the marriage was dissolved in 1975.

During the 1960s, Roger enjoyed the London theatre scene, drinking at the Coach and Horses pub in Soho with Jeffrey and Bruce Bernard and others from that set. Dudley Moore once greeted him from the stage with "Hello Rog!" as he sat down in the front row to watch a performance of Beyond the Fringe.

In 1968, Roger moved with Sadler's Wells Opera to the Coliseum, becoming a lighting supervisor and designer for English National Opera, where he was responsible for over 50 productions. During 1979 he met and married the actress and singer Joyce Rae, who later became a theatrical agent.

In 1984, Roger toured America with ENO, a tour which culminated in him supervising the lighting of Rigoletto, Turn of the Screw and War and Peace at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. He left ENO a year later to turn freelance, which gave him the chance to extend his repertoire into the commercial theatre. He recently designed the premiere of Ronald Harwood's play An English Tragedy.

Roger's varied career included work with English Bach Festival in London and Europe, as well as 12 seasons with Opera Holland Park. Also in London, he produced operas and ballet galas at Queen Elizabeth Hall, as well as West End commercial plays. His work in Ireland with, among others, The Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company and Cork Opera resulted in him being voted "Lighting Designer of the Year" by The Irish Times.

In his work, Roger demonstrated patience and humour, managing to pull lighting effects out of the bag in spite of low budgets and short timescales. He was very generous to students and worked extensively with young people at Rada, ArtsEd and, most recently, St Mary's University of Minnesota and the Drama Centre London at the Cochrane.

Last year he was diagnosed with cancer but continued to work right up until he went into hospital. Although his operation initially seemed successful, he suffered complications that proved ultimately fatal. His death on 29 November 2008 was a huge shock to the many people who knew and loved him. He leaves his wife, daughter and two grandsons.

Louise Frith

If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, family member or colleague, please send a piece of no more than 500 words to Obituaries, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, by fax to 020 7005 2064 or by email to obituaries@independent.co.uk.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Salesforce Developer

£500 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Salesforce APEX Developer APEX, Classe...

Market Access Analyst (FIX 5.0, Equities, Derivatives)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Access Analyst (FIX On-boarding, FIX 5.0,...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Level 3 or above Ear...

Special Needs teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Need teachers required t...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on