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5 minutes with a Tony nominee: ‘Illinoise’’s Brandon Stirling Baker

The Tony Award-nominated designer delves into the creation of musicality and emotion through light.

Brandon Stirling Baker attends the 77th Annual Tony Awards Meet the Nominees Press Event at Sofitel New York on May 02, 2024, in New York City. (Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Brandon Stirling Baker has collaborated with choreographer Justin Peck for New York City Ballet for a decade, and 11 years ago Baker earned his first Broadway credit as assistant lighting designer for “Hands on a Hardbody.”

This year, past elements collided as Baker made his Main Stem debut as lead lighting designer for Peck’s “Illinoise.” Baker previously served as assistant lighting designer on other movement-forward Broadway shows — from the dance musical “After Midnight” to the stage adaptation of “Rocky.” 

For “Illinoise,” Baker synthesized his experiences in dance and theater. One critic described Baker’s lighting design as “inky gorgeousness.” Here, the designer breaks down his work on the musical, his synergy with the songs of Sufjan Stevens and his perspective on “Illinoise” as a whole.

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