Two-time Tony winner Howell Binkley, one of Broadway’s most prominent contemporary lighting designers, passed away August 14, 2020, at the age of 64. The cause was lung cancer. His wife, Joyce Storey, confirmed the news to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Among his designs were the original Broadway productions of Jersey Boys and Hamilton, both of which won him the Tony Award in 2006 and 2016, respectively, along with an Olivier Award for the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical's staging in London’s West End in 2018. The recently released Disney+ capture of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre immortalizes Mr. Binkley's work for generations to come.
The designer made his Broadway debut as the lighting designer for Kiss of a Spider-Woman in 1993, earning a Tony nomination for his work on the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Terrence McNally musical set in an Argentine prison. His additional credits include Avenue Q, In the Heights, Come From Away, and Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, all of which also earned Tony nods. In total, he competed nine times for Broadway’s highest honor.
Born in Winston-Salem, Mr. Binkley attended East Carolina University before moving to New York City in 1978. In 1985, choreographer David Parsons and Mr. Binkley founded the Parsons Dance Company, a modern company that has toured all over the world.
By end of the '90s, Mr. Binkley was firmly established as one of Broadway's most sought-after lighting technicians. In addition to original productions like Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Escape to Margaritaville, Prince of Broadway, Allegiance, Memphis, and The Full Monty, the designer handled a number of revivals on the Main Stem, including Gypsy in 2008, West Side Story in 2009, and Jesus Christ Superstar in 2012. In total, Mr. Binkley designed lighting for 52 Broadway shows.
In addition to his work in NYC, Binkley worked on the national tours of Applause in 1996; tick, tick...BOOM! in 2003; and Flashdance in 2012. His work was most recently seen earlier this year in the world premiere of Fly at La Jolla Playhouse.