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A Film by Michael Kantor



Ann Reinking

A Broadway musical star and later choreographer, Ann Reinking reached a pinnacle in her career in June 1997 when she won the Tony Award for choreographing the revival of “Chicago.” She had been dancing since her youth, and after some early training with the San Francisco Ballet, moved to New York at age 16 to study on scholarship with the Joffrey Ballet. The lure of the theater found her making her debut in “Cabaret” in 1969. After working with Michael Bennett in “Coco” (1969), Reinking first worked with Bob Fosse, who would be her mentor and off-stage paramour, as a chorus performer in “Pippin” (1972). She made the move from the chorus to featured roles with her award-winning turn in “Over Here!” (1974), a stage musical featuring the Andrews Sisters. She garnered her first Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Joan of Arc to Joel Grey’s Dauphin in the unsuccessful musical “Goodtime Charley” in 1975. The following year, she stepped into Donna McKechnie’s red dress as Cassie, who longs to return to her first love, in Michael Bennett’s “A Chorus Line.” In 1977, Reinking once again was tapped as a replacement, this time for veteran star (and Fosse’s wife) Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart in “Chicago.”

Reinking staged and starred as Roxie Hart in the revival of "Chicago," with James Naughton as Billy Flynn.

The casting of the twentysomething Reinking to replace the fiftysomething Verdon was considered insulting by some, while others thought Reinking too young and inexperienced for the role. Nevertheless, she received good notices and won audiences over. “Dancin'” (1978), Fosse’s free-form salute to Broadway gypsies, further raised her profile, and she was again nominated for a Tony for her terpsichorean feats. Her subsequent stage work was sporadic, distinguished by her own Off-Broadway show, “Ann Reinking … Music Loves Me” in 1984 and the lead in the Fosse-directed revival of “Sweet Charity” in 1986-87 (Once again inheriting a role created by Verdon). After the birth of her son and her relocation to Florida, she more or less withdrew from performing. In 1996, Reinking was asked to appear in and help stage a concert-version revival of “Chicago,” which proved so popular and successful, it was moved to Broadway. Her choreography retained much of Fosse’s dark, jazzlike, fluid body movements, yet added her own original touches.

Ann Reinking

Born: November 10, 1949
Key Shows
  • "Chicago"
  • "A Chorus Line"
  • "Coco"
  • "Dancin'"
  • "Goodtime Charley"
  • "Pippin"
  • "Sweet Charity"
Related Artists
  • Michael Bennett
  • Bob Fosse
  • Joel Grey
  • Kander and Ebb
  • Bebe Neuwirth
  • Stephen Schwartz
  • Ben Vereen
  • Gwen Verdon
  • Tony Walton
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Reinking had a brief flurry in films and on TV. She debuted as “Troubles” Moran, a sultry nightclub singer, in Stanley Donen’s pastiche tribute to old Hollywood, MOVIE MOVIE (1978). Although their off-screen relationship had cooled, Fosse tapped her to play his alter ego’s girlfriend in the autobiographical ALL THAT JAZZ (1979). In the film, Reinking has a lovely moment with the choreographer’s daughter where the duo perform a musical number for him. As the film was conceived and directed by Fosse, the role was assumed to be based on Reinking as well. She was the secretary to Daddy Warbucks in John Huston’s overblown screen version of ANNIE (1982) and was Micki, the pregnant wife of Dudley Moore’s philanderer, in MICKI & MAUDE (1984).

Source: Excerpted from Baseline. BaselineStudioSystems — A Hollywood Media Corp. Company.

Photo credits: Photofest