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"Hamilton" lights up thanks to ECU grad


The award-winning lighting for "Hamilton" was created by ECU grad Howell Binkley.

When you rewatch "Hamilton" on Disney+ this week, pay close attention to the extraordinary contributions of East Carolina University alum Howell Binkley.

Binkley, a professional lighting designer in New York City, earned a Tony Award for Best Lighting Design in a Musical for "Hamilton" in 2016.

ECU alum Howell Binkley poses with his Tony Award.

Binkley grew up in Winston-Salem and attended East Carolina from 1974-78. He started his lighting career working with the university's dance programs.

He is well known for his use of saturated color, accompanied by white or slightly cool highlights. His lighting design adds drama and impact to the "Hamilton" actors' performances, which take place on a stage with several levels and a revolving turntable.

Howell Binkley won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design for his work in "Hamilton."

The version of the Broadway play being streamed on Disney+ was filmed in 2016 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre with the original cast -- and Binkley's award-winning lighting.

The musical took the theater-world by storm. Writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda combined hip-hop, rap, rhythm 'n blues and musical theater for a show about a founding father who masterminded the country's banking system and was killed in a duel.

It was the biggest musical of the decade -- and tickets sold out at premium prices. And it earned 11 Tony Awards, including the one for Binkley's lighting.

UPDATE: Howell Binkley died on Aug. 14, 2020, after a battle with lung cancer.

📷: Web photos

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, is a former staff writer for The Daily Reflector, where she was editor of Her... magazine and Greenville: Life in the East and several other niche publications. Email her at jane@beetheremedia.com.

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