Through times past, history shows that there has always been a way to reward those who demonstrate excellence in art. Centuries ago, songs and stories would have been sung and told about these people. Today, this excellence is appreciated in the form of award shows (with a lot of stage lighting and flash photography). The Tony Awards is one of the ways we appreciate excellence in theatre. This includes musicals as well as stage plays.
Named after legendary actress Antoinette Perry, it’s an annual award show. Furthermore, in American theatre, winning a Tony is the highest level of achievement. One man has managed to do it twice — lighting designer Bradley King.
Established in 1947, the Tony Awards has since evolved to present awards for lighting design, directing, costume design, music, and direction. Here at Lighting Geek, we are mostly concerned with the stage lighting design category of the Tony awards.
Formerly the Tony award for Best Lighting Design, it was split into one lighting design award for a musical and another for a play. It is in the musical genre that lighting designer Bradley King wrote his name into the history books.
Bradley King: The Two-Time Tony Man
Bradley King grew up in Maryland with a fascination for the arts. This fascination turned into passion coupled with excellence at the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Here, he earned a BFA in theatrical directing before going on to specialize with an MFA in design.
The decision to specialize in stage lighting is one that paid off. Today, Bradley King is recognized worldwide for his lighting design work on musicals such as Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812. In fact, he won his first Tony award for Best Lighting Design in a Musical for the latter. This was back in 2017.
Since then, he has shown that his 2017 Tony award was not a fluke. In 2019, he earned another well-deserved Tony award for his work on the musical, Hadestown. The musical combines the mythic tales of King Hades and Persephone with that of Eurydice and Orpheus. As an expert lighting designer, Bradley King was able to take on the challenge of bringing each performance of the musical to life with award-winning stage lighting.
His stage lighting design fully embraced the darkness of the musical, leading to a color palette featuring multiple movements as well as chases that took the audience on a trip to the underworld and back.
He may have won two Tony awards, but Bradley King’s passion for stage lighting design is still evident. According to him:
“We like to say [that] without lighting design, and it’s just radio. When we’re all firing on, however many cylinders we have, there’s a really magical collaboration because all the elements are working so seamlessly together.”
With recent work for the MCC Theater, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, and many more, there’s still more to see from the amazing lighting designer!