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Jay Binder, Top-Notch Casting Director for Broadway, Dies at 71


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Jay Binder, who served as the casting director for nearly 100 Broadway productions, from Lost in Yonkers, Laughter on the 23rd Floor and The King and I to Chicago, The Lion King and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, has died. He was 71.

Binder died peacefully Friday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a publicist announced. The cause of death has not been determined.

A native of South Orange, New Jersey, Binder cast every Neil Simon play from 1990 through 2009 and received 11 Artios Awards from the Casting Society of America, the highest honor in casting.

He also received Tony noms as a producer in 1998 and 2010 for the revivals of Finian’s Rainbow and The Sound of Music, respectively. He cast those, of course, and also worked on Tony-winning productions of Dames at Sea, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Gypsy, Beauty and the Beast and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.

In 1994, Binder co-founded the Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert series at New York City Center. His work casting this acclaimed series led to the Tony-winning revival of Chicago, which opened in 1996.

“I worked hand-in-glove with Jay for two decades,” Jack Viertel, who served as the series’ artistic director from 2000-20, said in a statement. “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.”

Binder cast the Emmy-winning 1991-93 NBC series I’ll Fly Away, starring Regina Taylor and Sam Waterston, and the 2013 HBO special Six by Sondheim and served as the East Coast casting director for Warner Bros. Television for five years.

On for the big screen, he worked Chicago (2002), Dreamgirls (2006), Hairspray (2007) and Nine (2009).

Binder was an artistic consultant for Disney World and National Artists Management Co. and a creative consultant on the 2001 PBS special, My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs, hosted by Julie Andrews.

Binder was the associate director of Lolita and Happy New Year on Broadway; directed the premiere production of Love and Other Fables at Theatre by the Sea in Rhode Island; 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, his company, Binder Casting, was acquired by RWS Entertainment Group, and he served as the director of theatrical development at RWS until his retirement in July 2020.

A memorial will be announced at a later date.

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