Allen Lee Hughes

American Theatre Magazine
December, 2019
by Jerald Raymond Pierce

Lighting Designer: Allen Lee Hughes

“I’ve done a lot of shows.”

New York City-based lighting designer Allen Lee Hughes says this as he looks back on a career that spans five decades (and counting), which began when he was an intern at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage in 1969. By his tally, including theatre, dance, and other performance, the total number of designs he’s worked on is somewhere in the neighborhood of 400. For the man who has been the lighting designer for 10 Broadway shows—including the original Once on this Island, which earned him one of three Tony nominations—he mentions two things that keep the fire alive for him as he prepares to take another show to Broadway.

The first, he says, is the excitement around being able to work with new people on new scripts.

“Working with the people that I work with is exciting,” Hughes explains. “I believe a great deal in collaboration, so each collaboration keeps it exciting for me. Each set is different. Working with each director, working with each acting ensemble.”

The second thing that keeps his creative fire alive can be found in the classroom. Hughes is a professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where he himself received his master’s degree. “The other thing that keeps it fresh is students,” Hughes says, and “knowing that my students are watching and learning from what I achieve.”

For current students, those achievements include seeing Hughes in preparation for the Broadway debut of Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play, directed by Kenny Leon, which begins previews on Dec. 27 for a Jan. 21 opening at Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre. But in addition to the work of his you can see onstage and in playbills, Hughes’s legacy extends across the country, thanks to Arena Stage founding artistic director Zelda Fichandler. 

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
Lighting Designer When the Chickens Came Home to Roost 1980-81 Season
Lighting Designer Zora 1980-81 Season