A wildly talented actress-choreographer-dancer, Ann Reinking was a ballet-trained chorus girl in New York City when she crossed paths with Bob Fosse. Becoming his protégée and paramour,...
Actresses Ann Reinking and Bebe Neuwirth are heading back to the New York revival of Chicago to help celebrate the show becoming the second longest-running production in Broadway history. Reinking, who also choreographed the musical, took centre stage as Roxie Hart when it first opened in May, 1996, alongside Neuwirth as Velma Kelly, Joel Grey as Amos Hart and James Naughton in the role of Billy Flynn.
Now all four original stars will return to the Great White Way for cameos on 23 November (14) for a special performance to mark the theatre record.
Chicago, which will have racked up 7,486 performances in 18 years by the time the curtain falls on the November show, will take over the second-place title from Cats, which recorded 7,485 shows on Broadway between 1982 and 2000.
However, the 1920s-based musical still has a way to go to claim the top honour - that is held by another Andrew Lloyd Webber production, The Phantom of the Opera, which is still running at the Majestic Theatre after more than 11,000 performances since 1988.
Miramax is close to signing a deal with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger to star in a movie version of the hit Broadway musical Chicago, according to FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman. At one time, when it appeared that Madonna, Goldie Hawn and Rosie O'Donnell would star in the film, several movie writers observed that it was difficult enough attracting audiences to a musical nowadays -- let alone to musicals starring middle-aged performers playing sexy twenty-somethings. Friedman suggested in his column that Zellweger remains a questionable choice because it's not known whether she can sing or dance. He said the final decision on that score will be made by choreographer Ann Reinking. "Without Reinking," Friedman commented, "there is no Chicago. So she must be satisfied with these choices."
Headlined her own stage show, "Ann Reinking ... Music Loves Me"
Played featured role of Joe Gideon's girlfriend in Fosse's feature "All That Jazz"
Guested on "Doug Henning: Magic on Broadway" TV special (NBC)
Made film debut in "Movie Movie"
Trained with the San Francisco Ballet Company
Served as host of "A&E Stage"
Co-starred as Grace, Warbucks' secretary, in John Huston's film version of the musical "Annie"
Replaced Gwen Verdon in Broadway cast of "Chicago"
Final stage collaboration with Fosse, succeding Debbie Allen in the lead of the revival of "Sweet Charity"
Co-choreographed and co-directed the stage tribute "Fosse", featuring recreations of dances created by Bob Fosse
Made Broadway debut in "Cabaret"
Choreographed "Bye Bye Birdie" for TV (ABC)
Breakthrough stage role in "Over Here!"
Returned to Broadway as star and choreographer of revival of "Chicago"; won Tony for her choreography
Starred with Amy Irving and Dudley Moore in "Micki and Maude"
Had featured role in "Dancin'", Bob Fosse's dance anthology; earned second Tony nomination
Joined cast of "Fosse" for one month run (March-April)
First collaboration with Bob Fosse, appeared in the chorus of "Pippin"
Earned first Tony nomination for leading role of Joan of Arc in the musical "Goodtime Charley"; co-starred opposite Joel Grey
Succeded Donna McKechnie as Cassie in "A Chorus Line" on Broadway
Moved to New York at age 16 with scholarship to study with the Joffrey Ballet
A wildly talented actress-choreographer-dancer, Ann Reinking was a ballet-trained chorus girl in New York City when she crossed paths with Bob Fosse. Becoming his protégée and paramour, Reinking conquered Broadway with a string of roles in everything from "Goodtime Charley," "Dancin'," "A Chorus Line" and "Over Here!" She made headlines by replacing Fosse's wife Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart in "Chicago" in 1977, and, nearly 20 years later, won a Tony for reimagining and choreographing a revival of that same show, which took the world by storm. Best known to mainstream audiences as the twinkle-toed Grace Farrell, secretary and would-be girlfriend to Daddy Warbucks (Albert Finney) in the musical "Annie" (1982), she also starred opposite Dudley Moore in "Micki + Maude" (1984) and choreographed the TV movie "Bye Bye Birdie" (ABC, 1995), but segued gracefully into an award-winning career as a Broadway choreographer and director. Dedicated to promoting the legacy of Fosse and of all things Broadway and dance, Ann Reinking became one of the most famous modern legends of the Great White Way.<p>Born Nov. 10, 1949 in Seattle, WA, Ann Reinking was a born dancer who trained from her youth in a variety of disciplines including ballet and tap. Earning a scholarship to study ballet in New York City, Reinking moved to the Big Apple, where she quickly found work as a chorus girl in such productions as "Cabaret," "Coco" and "Pippin." It was in the latter show, while gaining invaluable professional experience, that she first met the legendary Bob Fosse, who became both her mentor and, eventually, her lover; through the years, she would become one of the chief interpreters of his work, as well as a formidable dancer, choreograph and artist in her own right. Reinking made the move from the chorus to featured roles with her Theatre World Award-winning turn in "Over Here!" a stage musical featuring the Andrews Sisters. She also began appearing as a dancer in several musical telecasts, including "Liza with a "Z": A Concert for Television" (NBC, 1972), and made her screen acting debut in an episode of "Ellery Queen" (NBC, 1975-76). She earned nominations for a Tony and Drama Desk Award for playing Joan of Arc to Joel Grey's Dauphin in "Goodtime Charley" and took over the female leading role of Cassie in "A Chorus Line."<p>Although she earned another Tony nomination for "Dancin'," Reinking would forever be associated the most with the role of Roxie Hart in Fosse's "Chicago." In 1977, she stepped into the dancing shoes of the veteran star (and Fosse's wife) Gwen Verdon in the show. The casting of the twentysomething Reinking to replace the fiftysomething Verdon was considered controversial by some, but Reinking's ability and star power won over audiences and critics alike. Buoyed by her Broadway success, Reinking booked a flurry of film and TV work, playing sultry nightclub singer Troubles Moran in "Movie Movie" (1978) and a thinly veiled version of herself in Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" (1979), where her prodigious musical theater talents were on full display. Mainstream audiences loved and remembered her best, however, as the loving, lovely Grace Farrell, secretary to Daddy Warbucks, in the much-hyped film adaptation of "Annie" (1982). Her interactions with young Aileen Quinn who played the famous moppet - particularly their tap routine to "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here" - were charming. While critical reviews of the film were mixed, it became an enduring fan favorite and captured some of Reinking's truly glorious dance numbers, where her innate grace downplayed the considerable technical difficulty of her routines.<p>Although she also appeared in the musical "A Night on the Town" (1983), starred opposite Dudley Moore in the misbegotten marital comedy "Micki + Maude" (1984) and took the lead in Fosse's revival of "Sweet Charity," Reinking turned her focus to starting a family and relocated to Florida, where she taught dance and performance. A star of her caliber could not stay away from the Great White Way for long, however, and Reinking was asked to choreograph a one-night only revival of "Chicago." She ended up reprising the role of Roxie Hart, and the performance proved so popular and successful it was moved to Broadway. Reinking's brilliant reimagining of the show as a dark sexual fantasy laced with Fosse-inspired, jazz-like, fluid choreography, astounded critics and audiences, who fell in love with her vision. For her work, she won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for Best Choreography and went on to earn the Helpmann Award and the Laurence Olivier Award. So iconic did Reinking's revived "Chicago" become that it convinced Hollywood to adapt it for a feature film. Although the process took years and countless stars were attached before falling away, it eventually became a 2002 Oscar-winning modern classic starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellwegger. Paying tribute to her mentor, Reinking earned additional Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for her show "Fosse." She also choreographed the made-for-TV adaptation of "Bye Bye Birdie" (ABC, 1995) and made multiple appearances as a keeper of the flame of not only Fosse, but classic Broadway and dance in all its forms.<p><i>By Jonathan Riggs</i>
married in 1989; divorced in 1991; father of Reinking's son
born in 1990; father, James Stuart; diagnosed as developmentally disabled
son of tennis champion Bill Talbert; married in 1994
Reinking established and runs The Broadway Theatre Project in Tampa, Florida, a summer program for high school and college students.
"[Bob Fosse] lived to wake people up, to make them really live. He taught me how hard you have to work to do that. . . . Bob taught me extraordinary discipline and love. But I wanted to have a baby, and he had already done that." --Ann Reinking in THE NEW YORK TIMES, November 10, 1996