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Howell Binkley, Beloved Lighting Designer of Hamilton, Jersey Boys, Avenue Q, Dies at 64

Binkley designed 52 Broadway shows and won two Tony Awards.

Howell Binkley (center) and two of his productions: Hamilton and Ain't Too Proud.
(© Joan Marcus/David Gordon/Matthew Murphy)

Howell Binkley, the beloved, two-time Tony-winning lighting designer who had four shows running concurrently in New York City at the time of the theater shutdown, died Friday, August 14. Binkley was 64 and had lung cancer.

Binkley would amass 52 Broadway shows over the course of his decades-long career, which began in 1993 with Kiss of the Spider Woman. He earned his Tonys for Jersey Boys and Hamilton, both directed by longtime collaborators Des McAnuff and Thomas Kail.

With McAnuff, Binkley also created the lighting for the 1995 production of How to Succed in Business Without Really Trying, Dracula, the Musical, The Farnsworth Invention, the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls, 2012's Jesus Christ Superstar revival, Doctor Zhivago, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, and the currently running Ain't Too Proud.

In addition to Hamilton, for which he also won an Olivier, Binkley collaborated with Kail on In the Heights, Lombardi, and Magic/Bird. Spider Woman marked Binkley's first Broadway production with Harold Prince, an association that also featured Parade, Hollywood Arms, LoveMusik, and Prince of Broadway. Working with Christopher Ashley, Binkley designed the lighting for Seussical, Memphis, Xanadu, Escape to Margaritaville, and Come From Away.

Born in Winston-Salem, Binkley attended East Carolina University before moving to New York. He co-created the Parsons Dance Company with choreographer David Parsons in 1985. Among his additional credits are Avenue Q, Bat Boy, Radiant Baby, Golda's Balcony, Allegiance, Bare, and dozens of regional credits.

Binkley's survivors include his wife, Joyce, and daughter, Zoë.


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