Ian MacNeil is the son of news anchor and journalist Robert MacNeil. He became interested in design at an early age, playing with toy theaters and creating puppet shows with his sister in their yard. "I still remember the pleasure I took in creating those little worlds - complete environments with characters I could manipulate," he recalled.
He studied at the Croydon School of Art and later with Ming Cho Lee in New York City. He spent ten years designing productions in Birmingham,Worcester ,York , and Manchester before moving to London, where he made his West End debut with "Death and the maiden" in 1991.
Ian MacNeil has designed for many London venues, including the National theatre, the English national opera, the Almeida theatre , the Young Vic the Lyric Hammersmith, the Barbican theater , and the Royal court theater. Ian designed the set and costumes for the play An inspector calls in 1994. He also designed the set for the play Via Dolorosa in 1999 and the set for Festen in 2006. Ian designed the set for Billy Elliot the musical in 2008 and the set for the play Betrayal which only came out a few days ago on October 27th 2013. In 1999 he staged the international tour of the Pet Shop Boys promoting the release of their album Nightlife.
- He won the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1993 for Best Set Designer for "An Inspector Calls."
- He won the 1993 London Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Designer for "Machinal."
- He won the 1992 London Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Designer for "An Inspector Calls".
- He won the 2002 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Designer for "Plasticine."
- He won the the 2009 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for "Billy Elliot."
Set of Billy Elliot the musical:
Set of An Inspector Calls :
In the following video we get to see the machinery that is built into the set of Billy Elliot the musical.