Jay Binder, whose more than four decades as a prominent Broadway casting director included finding just the right talent for such productions as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, among many others, died peacefully today at his home. He was 71.
His death was announced by a press spokesperson.
A founder and driving force behind the popular and acclaimed Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert series at New York City Center, Binder cast that series’ Chicago revival, which went on to Broadway and a Tony Award.
In all, Binder cast nearly 100 Broadway productions, including A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Dames At Sea, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Gypsy, and The King and I. He cast Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers and every other production of the playwright’s work from 1990 through 2009.
“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.”
For television, Binder, a South Orange, NJ native, cast the Emmy Award-winning series I’ll Fly Away and was the East Coast Casting Director of Warner Brothers Television for five years. For film, he cast Six by Sondheim (HBO), Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Chicago, and Nine. He was an artistic consultant for Disney World and National Artists Management Company and was a creative consultant on the PBS special, My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs, hosted by Julie Andrews.
Also on Broadway, Binder was the associate director of Lolita and Happy New Year. He directed the premiere production of Love and Other Fables at Theatre by the Sea and worked as a director at numerous regional theaters across the country, with credits 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.
In 2016, Binder Casting was acquired by RWS Entertainment Group. Through RWS,. Binder served as the Director of Theatrical Development until his official retirement in July 2020.
Binder was the recipient of eleven Artios Awards, the highest honor in casting, and the 2019 Amas Repertory Theatre’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
A memorial will be announced at a later date.