Broadway Mourns a Legend

Tony-winning choreographer, actress Ann Reinking dies at 71
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 15, 2020 1:49 AM CST
Broadway Legend Dead at 71
Ann Reinking, left, and Bebe Neuwirth share a laugh on stage while accepting the award for best revival of a musical during the 51st Annual Tony Awards on June 1, 1997, in New York.   (AP Photo/Adam Nadel, File)

Ann Reinking, the Tony Award-winning choreographer, actress, and Bob Fosse collaborator who helped spread a cool, muscular hybrid of jazz and burlesque movement to Broadway and beyond, has died. She was 71. Reinking died Saturday while visiting family in Seattle, said her manager, Lee Gross. No cause of death was disclosed, the AP reports. Tributes poured in from the Broadway community, including from Tony Yazbeck, who called her “an absolute inspiration”; Leslie Odom Jr., who thanked Reinking for being a mentor; and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who called her "a singular talent." Bernadette Peters took to Twitter to say her heart was broken and Billy Eichner said she was “one of the most mesmerizing people I’ve ever seen on stage. A singular genius. RIP.” Chita Rivera said she "loved sharing the stage with her whenever we could."

Trained as a ballet dancer, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the revival of the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago, complete with net stockings, chair dancing, and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Bebe Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Reinking's work on Chicago, which is still running and in 2011 became the second longest-running show in Broadway history, earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world—England, Australia, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. In 1998, she co-directed Fosse. (More on her life and work here.)

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