Veteran casting director Jay Binder, who cast nearly 100 Broadway productions during a four-decade career, passed away peacefully at his home April 15 at the age of 71.
In addition to casting the award-winning productions of The Lion King, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Beauty and the Beast, Lost in Yonkers, and Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Mr. Binder cast every Neil Simon play from 1990 through 2009. He was also one of the founders and a driving force behind the City Center Encores! series, including the long-running, Tony-winning revival of Chicago.
“I worked hand-in-glove with Jay for two decades,” said Jack Viertel, who served as the Encores! artistic director from 2000-2020. “He was always the most knowledgeable, passionate, and feistiest person in the room. He loved actors and wanted every one of them to succeed. I’ll miss that spirit, that optimism, and that deep well of knowledge forever.”
Mr. Binder was the associate director of Broadway's Lolita and Happy New Year. He directed the premiere of Love and Other Fables at Theatre by the Sea and worked as a director at numerous regional theatres, including Present Laughter at The Acting Company; Rex, Jumbo, and Best Foot Forward at The York Theatre Company; and Say Yes! at the Berkshire Theatre Festival.
Mr. Binder cast HBO's Six by Sondheim, the Emmy-winning TV series I'll Fly Away, and was the East Coast Casting Director of Warner Brothers Television for five years. For film he cast Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Chicago, and Nine, and was an artistic consultant for Disney World and National Artists Management Company and a creative consultant on the PBS special My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs.
Mr. Binder was the recipient of 11 Artios Awards, the highest honor in casting, and Amas Musical Theatre’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also the recipient of two Tony nominations, both for Best Revival of a Musical, in 1998 and 2010 for The Sound of Music and Finian's Rainbow, respectively. Both productions were produced in association with Mr. Binder.
In 2016 Binder Casting was acquired by RWS Entertainment Group. Through RWS, Mr. Binder served as the Director of Theatrical Development until his retirement in July 2020.
A memorial for the South Orange, New Jersey, native who was born March 11, 1951, will be announced at a later date.