Former chorus boy and featured dancer who went on to stage the musical numbers for Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" (1934) and "Panama Hattie" (1940) and almost all of Rodgers and Hart's post-Balanchine...
With all of the hacking, raping, rioting and stealing that dominated last week's episode, it was nice to take a breather and further the plot with fantastic dialogue instead of violence. Much of the action this week was in direct reaction to the multiple traumatic events we saw last week: Inspector Dany had to figure out which of the Qartheen overlords stole her dragons, Theon was reeling over over Bran and Rickon's escape, and Sansa and Cersei were still processing the bloody riots that had confirmed their loss of the people. Still, a second betrayal in Qarth and the reappearance of the Kingslayer allowed Game of Thrones to reach its weekly bloody benchmark, and powerful moments with Ygritte and Jon, Tywin and Arya, and Jaime and Cat made up for any lack in ice and fire.
Theon woke alone in bed, which is something he should probably get used to, because he's terrible. But losing Bran and Rickon was far more embarrassing than losing his wildling lover, so Theon took to beating his subordinates to somehow make things better. (Aside: I added a point to the "Theon" column on my "Theon vs. Joffrey Stupid/Evil Comparison Chart" when he bitched that when he was the Stark's captive, he never ran away. Because the situations are totally the same.) Still, Theon was in relatively high spirits -- once he found the boys and Yara's never-promised men arrived, he would hold Winterfell better than the Starkiest of the Starks.
Later, Theon and his men were able to track Bran and Rickon to a friendly farm in the countryside, but there his hounds lost their scent. His spirits were considerably lowered again, so he took out his rage on old Maester Luwin, who made the mistake of suggesting a night's rest. Theon didn't want to be the guy who couldn't catch a cripple, a child, and a half-wit, he explained. "It is better to be cruel than weak," he said in a panic. "I'm looking at spending the rest of my life being treated like a fool and a eunuch by my own people." Fortunately for Theon, his man found the walnut shells Bran and co. were munching on during their voyage. You'd think Osha would know better.
Beyond The Wall:
Kit Harrington's numerous fans probably loved every second of his screentime this episode, because seeing the typically dour bastard both embarrassed and sexually frustrated was a much-needed treat that amped up a previously stalling plotline. Anyway -- caught! Jon and Ygritte woke to find his hand groping her very-well covered breast, but multiple layers of fabric would not quell Ygritte's taunting. "Did you pull a knife on me in the night?" she asked. "Can't be the first time you pressed your bulge against a woman's ass." Jon, as usual, was not amused. (Aside: Ladies who are interested -- do NOT refer to male genitalia as "bones and stones" in front of Jon Snow. Won't go over well. Promise.)
But it actually was the first time Jon had laid with a woman, and Ygritte's shocked and borderline repulsed reaction to his virginity was enough to finally draw some anger from the poor guy. She half-jokingly listed Snow's potential sexual partners back on The Wall -- Girl crows? Other men? Sheep? These suggestions had Jon fuming, and probably very horny. "No homo!" he cried.* (*Actual quote: "It was my choice to say the words. Of course I like girls.")
Jon and Ygritte's little scuffle also provided some exposition about the Wildlings. Basically, they're Westeros' version of our Native Americans -- In 1492, some Targaryen or other landed on Westeros, called its people "Indians", and confined them to the world's worst reservation on a giant ice cube. Jon said that as a Stark, he shared the blood of the First Men, so he and Ygritte were one and the same. "Then why are you fighting us?" she asked. Good question, given the frozen zombies that are wandering around.
The pair continued down their walk of frozen shame, and Ygritte spoke of the wonders of Wildling life. If Jon joined her, she said, he could have plenty of sex, and she could "teach him how to do it." Like a high school senior being taunted by the popular kids, Jon replied that he already knew how to do it. I don't think internet porn exists in Westeros, so I highly doubt that this is accurate. Ygritte is right there with me: "You know nothing, Jon Snow," she said. (Aside: In the books, this is Ygritte's well-known catchphrase. She didn't first use it as a sexual come-on, but still -- I think Rose Leslie delivered the line very well.)
As they went on, Jon's chances of finding his friends became bleaker, and Ygritte's sexual advances became even more overt. At one point she flat-out said she was warm and wet, then offered to take him right there on the ground. He looked tempted but refused, which was probably a good thing: Ygritte attacked and ran, leading Jon straight to her Wildling friends.
Unfortunately for the peasants of the Harrenhal House of Horrors, Lord Tywin thought that Jaqen's poisoned dart was meant for him. Twenty innocents had already been killed in the search for the assassin, but Twyin didn't care if they hanged 100 -- Wolfsbane was a rare, serious poison, and he couldn't have that s**t circulating on campus.
A Song of Ice and Fire loyalists *might* be a little miffed that the show is devoting so much airtime to Tywin/Arya scenes that never took place in George R. R. Martin's books, but this pairing is so compelling that if so, they should probably just shut up already. Arya was becoming a bit too brave with Tywin: First she almost took the sure-to-be-fatal risk of snatching his knife, then she came about yay close to giving away her noble birth. In all of their scenes it feels like Arya is testing Tywin's waters to see just how much she can get away with, but this time her Stark-brand pride (and pre-feminist beliefs) nearly got in the way. She feigned stupidity when Tywin asked her if she knew what "legacy" meant, but when he told the story of the Targaryen conquest of Harrenhal, Arya couldn't help but add that it wasn't just Aegon, but Aegon and his sisters, who had flown in on their mighty dragons.
This, of course, was curious to Tywin: How could a peasant have any, let alone detailed, knowledge of history? Most girls, regardless of birth, dreamed of knights and maidens and Justin Bieber and things, he said. "Most girls are idiots," Arya replied. Tywin enjoyed this one, and complimented her by comparing her to Cersei. If Arya was affected by these repulsive words, she certainly didn't show it, but there is some truth to his statement: If Cersei didn't have to endure the pomp and circumstance that came with being Queen, she would most likely wear a knight's armor and behead her damn handmaidens herself.
Anyway, Tywin -- who is just as crafty as Arya, but with many added years of experience -- reminded her to say "M'Lord" instead of "My Lord" from here on out. "If you're going to pose as a commoner, do it properly." Again -- caught! Arya didn't give in, and tried to back it up with a lie about her mother teaching her how to speak "proper" -- but her upbringing had her quickly correcting herself with "properly," so her trick didn't really work. Tywin seemed to be amused by this game: He's not 100 percent sure that Arya is of noble birth just yet, but testing her to find out has been quite a trip. I'm super excited to see where this goes, because their scenes thus far have been brilliant.
Sansa tried to thank The Hound for saving her last week, but all she got was a lecture on the joy of cold-blooded murder. When she asked him why he was always so hateful, he responded: "You'll be glad of the hateful things I do someday, when you're queen and I'm all that stands between you and your beloved king." Hmm. Does this mean he'd be willing to do hateful things to Joffrey to protect Sansa? Somehow, I find this doubtful.
The next morning, Sansa woke from one bloody nightmare only to find herself right in the midst of an actual bloody nightmare: Her first period. She instantly knew what this meant -- she was now required to have sex (and children) with Joffrey. Join with me here: Ewwwwwwwwwwww. Shae helped her flip the mattress and nearly attacked a passing handmaid, so maybe I was wrong in doubting her motivations last week. Either way, The Hound found the evidence, leading to the most awkward "first period" sequence since Larry David tried to help a girl scout with tampon instructions on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Cersei's advice to Sansa was as follows: Joffrey would always be a little s**t, just like his fake-father Robert. Jaime was valiantly by her side for every delivery, but Sansa wouldn't be so lucky -- and she would just have to deal with it. "The more people you love, the weaker you are," she said. "You'll do things for them you shouldn't do. You'll act a fool to keep them happy and safe. Love no one but your children. On that front, a mother has no choice." Happy Mother's Day from Cersei Lannister!
At the very tail end of the episode, Tyrion made his one and only appearance: He and Cersei discussed Stannis' impending attack, which Cersei continued to take way too lightly. "We'll rain fire on them from above," she said, referring to the wildfire she thought she had been gathering. Interestingly, Cersei confessed to Tyrion her disappointment in Joffrey. "He doesn't listen to me," she said. "I always hoped he'd be like Jaime." Instead, she had birthed a little monster -- and she was beginning to think that Joffrey was the price she had to pay for her sins with her brother. Yes, the Targaryens had wed sister to brother for years, but half of them were mad: "Everytime a Tarygaryen is born, the gods flip a coin," the saying goes. Tyrion pointed out that Tommen and Myrcella were good people, so Cersei had beaten the Targaryen odds. This was a very rare tender-ish moment between these two, and I highly doubt we'll see more like it in the future.
Over in Qarth, Daenerys was still fightin' mad about her dragons. In another scene where Dany sounded far too weak and bratty for my liking, she refused Xaro's offer to aid her in her search. According to Xaro, a man was only what others said he was. If the citizens of Qarth knew that Xaro didn't help Dany after he took her under his roof, his reputation would suffer. This is terrible advice, particularly for high school girls. Teens: Don't listen to Xaro. Also -- why are you watching this show?
Later, Ser Jorah Mormont returned, ship-less, to help his beloved. She was not particularly grateful, as she was still in the midst of an "I can't trust anyone" tantrum. So, how could Jorah re-earn her trust? Oh, that's right -- by finding her f***ing dragons. His quest began with the mysterious masked woman, who somehow knew that Jorah had betrayed Dany to Varys months before. She made him swear to never betray Dany again before offering up her answer, which I guess makes her some sort of spooky guardian angel to Dany. "The thief you seek is with her now," she said.
This didn't exactly narrow things down, as Dany was currently in a room with her blood-riders, and every single member of the Thirteen. The nasty-as-ever Spice King was particularly happy to see her dragons gone, as they would "bring the world nothing but death and misery." True, but still -- we want her to win. Suddenly, the warlock with the tiny head who pulled that double-trouble trick back at the party -- Pyat Pree -- confessed to taking the dragons to the House of the Undying. He had made an arrangement with the "King of Qarth", and this King had then procured them for him. This was a confusing tidbit for Dany and the rest of the Thirteen, because there was no king in Qarth.
…Until now. Xaro had indeed betrayed Dany -- by making some sort of deal with Pyat that would make him the king. Somehow, stealing Dany's dragons and luring her back to them so she could "mother" them was part of their plan for Qartheen liberation. Suddenly, eleven identical versions of Pyat surrounded the remaining councilmen and slit their throats. "A mother should be with her children," Pyat said, very creepily. Dany, Jorah, and her blood-rider ran away in completely understandable horror, but they are still royally screwed here. A warlock and the richest man in Qarth are hiding their dragons in a magical place called The House of the Undying, so my guess is that things are going to get really freaky in Qarth next week.
In not-so-important news, Robb asked Talisa to accompany him on his upcoming journey to a castle known as The Crag, to raid for medical supplies and make out. All you really need to know from this scene is that Robb's advances will probably not sit will with Catelyn and the Freys, and also that Robb has much better game than his half-brother Jon. Eye contact, Jon. Eye contact.
Anyway, remember weeks ago, when Cersei tore Robb's letter of demands in half? Well, the deliverer of said letter -- Ser Alton Lannister -- finally returned with that news. Robb thanked him for his honor, and when he learned that Alton's former cage was occupied, he let him bunk with his distant cousin Jaime for the night.
Now, when I was a teen like Alton, I loved cousin sleepovers. I always got to sleep in Erin's room, where we would stay up all night and listen to '90s boy bands. I worshipped her because she was older and more stylish than me, so these nights were always very special. I know that Alton and Jaime's sleepover party took place in a cage, but I can fully imagine how exciting this must have been for him. Alton was a little-known Lannister from a distant cousin's cousin, destined for a whole lot of nothing. And here he was, imprisoned with the Jaime Lannister. The Kingslayer. The smooth-talker. The -- regular man with doubts and insecurities just like the rest of us? It can't be!
And alas, it wasn't. Alton kept inching closer and closer to Jaime, as the craftier Lannister manipulated him into some sort of bonding session. When Alton finally got close enough for comfort, Jaime killed him, and the Karstark guard on duty. He didn't get very far, and when Robb's men dragged him back to camp, Lord Karstark asked for his head to pay for the murder of his son. Cat, who knew that Jaime was still their only ticket to Sansa and (so she thought) Arya, begged for Jaime's safety until her girls were returned.
Jaime, for his part, just found the whole thing very amusing. Sick of being imprisoned, he all but asked Catelyn to kill him -- by hitting way below the belt, at Cat's Achilles' Heel. "I've never been with any woman but Cersei," he taunted. "So in my own way I have more honor than poor old dead Ned. What's the name of that bastard he fathered?" Just hearing the name "Jon Snow" always puts Cat in a murderous rage, so she drew her sword and … To Be Continued.
Theon had returned, giddy, to Winterfell -- where a crowd of peasants was gathered. "I told you what would happen if you served me loyally," he proclaimed. "And what would happen if you did not." Maester Luwin was then dragged to the scene, so that he could witness two small, burned bodies hoisted up on display. Gasp! Horror! The bodies were unrecognizable so it's unclear whether they were Bran and Rickon's, but either way we have confirmed that Theon is capable of child-murder. Those bodies belonged to someone.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
Sean Bean Arrested For Alleged Harassment
'Game of Thrones' Recap: The Old Gods and the New
S2E1: Game of Thrones knows how to do a second season premiere. After the long, aching wait to get back into Westeros, the HBO series picks up exactly as it should: with expansion.
Everything is bigger, and even more promising than it was when we left it at the incredible conclusion of Season One. We are introduced to new characters, worlds and themes, but even the returning players seem new. The battling families all feel like they’re on the upswing of adventure — Robb Stark’s war and the Lannisters’ undoing are being kindled steadily, with a very palpable feeling of ignition on the way.
“More ravishing than ever, big sister. War agrees with you.” – Tyrion Lannister
Cersei Lannister’s world is unraveling—as if conceiving a child with your twin brother, passing him off as your king husband’s son, and then killing (or trying to kill) everyone who knows your secret isn’t a failsafe plan. First off, the Small Council informs Cersei that — in case you haven’t heard — winter is coming, which means that shelter and resources are beginning to wear thin in King’s Landing. The ever generous Cersei demands that all peasants be denied entry into King’s Landing as a result.
Next, Tyrion Lannister pays Cersei and the Council a visit, instructing them that he is officially the King’s Hand in the absence of their father, Tywin — an agreement that was made in the Season One finale, as a result of Tywin’s disappointment in Jaime and Cersei. She is none too thrilled to hear this news, or to appreciate what it means about their father’s dissolving trust in her. Having to admit that she has misplaced Aria Stark — a good piece of ransom — brings further embarrassment to Cersei.
“The mockingbird. You created your own sigil, didn’t you?” – Cersei Lannister
“Yes.” – Little Finger
“Appropriate for a self-made man with so many songs to sing.” – Cersei Lannister
And then to be shown up by Little Finger — Season Two does not look to be kind to the Lannister queen. Cersei meets with Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Little Finger (a nickname he hates, according to his top prostitute) to find out information on Aria’s escape. Instead of helping his queen out (no surprise there; Petyr is anything but reverent), he makes insinuations that he knows about the Lannister twins’ secret, informing her that “Knowledge is power,” hinting unsubtly that the publication of this information will be their undoing. Cersei overcompensates by insulting Petyr’s meager upbringing and his unrequited love for Catelyn Stark and by proving that “power is power” by instructing her guards to seize him and cut his throat to make a point. She stops them before they carry out the order, but she is confident that he gets the message. Still, to the viewer, the antic just serves to highlight Cersei’s growing desperation.
“I heard a disgusting rumor about Uncle Jaime. And you.” – King Joffrey
Worst of all, Cersei’s own son is growing insubordinate. The power has gone well beyond King Joffrey’s head. At the beginning of the episode, he celebrates his name day by nearly having a drunken man drowned to death with a barrel of wine. Queen Sansa and the king’s guard the Hound convince him to employ the drunk as his royal jester in lieu of killing him, but this brief glimmer of mercy is only driven by self-interest (Joffrey learns that it is bad luck to kill a man on your name day). The king’s narcissism is only shown to grow on this episode.
For the first time, Cersei sees the danger in what her son is becoming. When he challenges her with the rumors about Jaime being his true father, Cersei responds by slapping her son — something that makes him angry enough to threaten her with death if she ever lays a hand on him again. With Jaime still prisoner of Robb Stark, her secret steadily filtering out to everyone she knows, and her own son beginning to turn against her, Cersei is learning that her grip on world power is rapidly loosening.
“This woman will lead him into a war he cannot win.” – Ser Davos Seaworth
Of course, if this secret does get out, it will mean the end of Joffrey’s reign. The rightful heir to the throne, Stannis Baratheon, finally joins Game of Thrones, and is well-aware of Joffrey’s true lineage. However, Stannis isn’t taking action with much stealth. He is calling for his people to pledge loyalty to the true king, but refuses to team up with his younger brother Renly (who is declaring himself the rightful king) or with Robb Stark and his army.
His judgment is called into question by his knights when Stannis aligns himself with Melisandre, a zealot of the new gods who thinks that he needs nothing but their powers to win a war. Melisandre manages to kill one of Stannis’ men who aims to challenge her influence over him, and to inspire paranoia in another: Davos Seaworth. The latter maintains loyalty and quiet suspicion for now, but we should predict dissention in some form.
“You married a rebel and mothered another.” – Robb Stark
Robb Stark is faced with devising strategic negotiations and alliances. He proposes to Alton Lannister, cousin of Cersei and Jaime, an independence of Winterfell and the freedom of his younger sisters in return for the Stark army’s appeasement of the royal family’s actions. This deal is not expected to carry. Robb’s best friend and right-hand man Theon Greyjoy proposes that they request an alliance with his father, but Robb and Catelyn Stark are hesitant. Catelyn insists that the Greyjoy army is not to be trusted, as they once rebelled against King Robert and, by association, Ned Stark. But Robb reminds her that now, the Starks are the rebellion; in spirit, the Starks and the Greyjoys are the same.
The subtext of Robb’s argument with Catelyn is one of the most fascinating aspects of the premiere, and a terrific example of why Game of Thrones is much more than a fantasy series. The question posed here is whether loyalty should be applied to men, or to ideas. Philosophically, the Greyjoys who rebelled against King Robert and Ned and the Starks of present are aligned. But as men, they are enemies. Robb, a purveyor of change and progression, is opting for a loyalty to the idea of rebellion. Catelyn is reluctant, all too attached to the memories of the Greyjoys’ war against her husband.
“Stars don’t fall for men. That comet means one thing, boy: dragons.” – Osha
We don’t see a lot of Daenerys Targaryen on this episode — she and her people wander almost biblically through the torrential territory of the Red Waste, victims of exhaustion and starvation. But as they press on, Daenerys maintains hope, deriving such from the friendships of her knight Jorah Mormont and her bloodrider Rakharo. Oh, and her dragons.
Although they are weak now, the signs say that the dragons will inherit the Earth once again. After Bran — who is ruling over Winterfell in the absence of everybody else in his family (Jon Snow is still with the Watch, north of the Wall, taking up with a drunken polygamist who marries his daughters) — has another one of his psychic dreams, he has the wildling Osha lead him to a lake that he envisioned in the woods. Above, the clear skies reveal a comet, which Osha predicts is a sign of the dragons’ rise.
“Death is so boring. Especially now, with so much excitement in the world.” – Tyrion Lannister
To reiterate, the premiere can be marked by the idea of expansion. The focus of the episode is the imminent fall of Cersei Lannister, who is not accustomed to misfortune. Her younger brother Tyrion, the series’ most terrific character, comes to King’s landing (with his beloved prostitute Shae secretly in tow) to aid his family, but it is unclear in which direction he will steer them, or if his loyalties are truly glued to his siblings — they are not exactly a functional family, after all. Robb’s war looks to take form soon, and in a big way. And although Daenerys is down now, the comets predict her lineage’s uprising. All in all, Season Two looks to be huge, in lots of good ways.
How did you enjoy the season premiere? What do you look forward to on this season of Game of Thrones, and what do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Choreographed first Broadway musical, "Anything Goes"
Featured dancer in "Castle in the Air"
First film as sole director, "Merton of the Movies"
First film as choreographer, "Strike Me Pink"
Staged benefits for US Armed Forces during WWII
Directing debut with "Number Please" episode of "Ziegfeld Follies"
Former chorus boy and featured dancer who went on to stage the musical numbers for Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" (1934) and "Panama Hattie" (1940) and almost all of Rodgers and Hart's post-Balanchine Broadway shows including "Pal Joey" (1940). Under long-term contract to MGM from the 1940s, while continuing to choreograph occasional Broadway musicals, Alton was a versatile, though never groundbreaking, dance director who did his finest work--such as the Fred Astaire/Judy Garland routines in "Easter Parade" (1948)--for individuals rather than large groups. His two solo directing efforts are for the most part forgettable.