CSUN Alumna Lights the Way on Broadway
If you want to see the Broadway sensation Hamilton, be prepared to spend between $179 for a standard seat and $849 for a premium seat — if you’re lucky enough to score tickets, which sell out within minutes of going on sale.
Tickets for the upcoming Aug. 8 show in New York sell for $7,000 each on the secondary ticket sales market.
One of the many reasons for the colossal success of the Pulitzer prize-winning musical was its crisp, stellar lighting. Lighting designer Howell Binkley won one of the musical’s 11 Tony awards in June for Best Lighting Design in a Musical.
The assistant lighting designer was former CSUN graduate Amanda Zieve ’06 (Theatre).
“I’ve never been a part of something so commercially successful before,” Zieve said. “Even people who aren’t familiar with theater have heard of this show.”
The mega-hit Hamilton may be the most successful Broadway show Zieve has worked on, but it’s far from her first.
Just a year after graduating from CSUN, Zieve worked alongside Binkley on the Broadway play The Farnsworth Invention, the first of 14 Broadway shows she’s done with him. Others include Million Dollar Quartet, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Christmas Story: The Musical and most recently, Grey Gardens.
“Some people work their whole life to get to that level [on Broadway] — it doesn’t happen very often because of the level of competition,” said Garry Lennon, one of Zieve’s CSUN theatre professor. “It’s remarkable.”
Zieve first met Binkley, a two-time Tony Award winner, while working at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego during the summer of her sophomore year at CSUN.
“I was working as a production assistant for the stage management team, but had gotten more interested in the lighting side,” Zieve said. “Howell [Binkley] came into the Playhouse one day and saw me reading a lighting book, and since that day, he’s been a total mentor to me and has taught me a lot about what I need to know [about lighting].”
Zieve said that working in the theater business takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but is completely worth it in the end.
“I’ve had to travel eight months out of the year and can sometimes be at work from 8 a.m. to midnight,” Zieve said. “But I just really enjoy the work and have never thought of it as a job.”
Some of Zieve’s typical responsibilities include attending meetings and rehearsals, voicing her opinion on several key decisions, and tracking and coordinating the placement of all the spotlights.
Zieve grew up in Colorado and went to high school in San Diego, but she decided CSUN was the best fit for her when it came time for higher education.
“I got accepted to other California schools, but chose to come to CSUN after I toured the school and talked with some of the theatre professors,” Zieve said. “I loved my time [at CSUN] and was able to graduate in three and a half years.”