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Ann Reinking Biography

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Birth Name: Ann Reinking
Born: 11/10/1949
Birth Place: Seattle, Washington, USA

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."

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.

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.

By Jonathan Riggs