Allen Lee Hughes

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Allen Lee Hughes
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EducationJohn Gleason (lighting designer)
Alma materCatholic University of America
Notable work
  • K2 (play)
  • K2, Original Broadway Production (1983)
  • Strange Interlude, Broadway Revival (1985)
  • Once on This Island, Original Broadway Production (1991)
  • Michael Merritt Award
  • Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration, 1997
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology
  • USITT Distinguished Achievement Award in Lighting Design, 2003

Allen Lee Hughes is an American lighting designer for theater, dance, and opera. He has a long association with Arena Stage in Washington DC[lower-alpha 1], where the fellowship and internship program is named in his honor[2]. Hughes is the only African American to have been nominated for a African-American Tony Award for Lighting Design.


Hughes earned his BA at Catholic University of America and his MFA from New York University's Tisch Scool of the Arts Department of Design for Stage and Film, where he later joined the faculty and still teaches[3].

Beginning in 1983[4] Hughes has designed 11 shows on Broadway including the original production of Clybourne Park, the 2012 revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and the original production of Once on This Island, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award and Roberta Smith described in the The New York Times as adding "effective suggestions of foliage or architecture, turning the painted blue sky to gold or red, or draining its color entirely. His efforts repeatedly ring in changes of place, weather or emotional tone and further animate Mr. Arcenas's carefully worked surfaces."[5] He also has done numerous designs Off-Broadway, at Regional theater in the United States|Regional theaters, and with numerous dance companies, including American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, and National Ballet of Canada[6].

Hughes has also designed multiple Gobo (lighting)|lighting gobos for Rosco[7].

Hughes has been nominated for three Tony Awards (K2, Strange Interlude, Once on This Island)[4] and ten Helen Hayes Awards, winning twice[2]. For K2, he was also nominated for the Drama Desk Award[4] and won the Outer Critics Circle Award| Outer Critics Circle[lower-alpha 2][8] and Joseph Maharam Award| Joseph Maharam (Hewes Design) Awards[6]. Other wins include the 2003 USITT Distinguished Achievement Award in Lighting Design[9] and the 1997 Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration[10].


  1. Where he has designed at least one show every season since 1979.[1]
  2. Joint winner with Ming Cho Lee as Best Set and Lighting Design


  1. I AM THEATRE: Allen Lee Hughes (Online Video Series). IAmTheatre. Theatre Communications Group. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Fellows and Interns". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  3. "Allen Lee Hughes, Associate Arts Professor". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Internet Broadway Database". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  5. Smith, Roberta (1990-10-10). "Behind the Painted World of 'Once On This Island'". New York Times. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Recipient: Allen Lee Hughes". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  7. "Enter The Rosco Gobo Design Contest". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  8. "1982-1983 Awards". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  9. "Distinguished Achievement Awards". Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  10. "Previous Recipients". Retrieved 2020-09-01.

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