Tuesday, June 19, 2007

REMEMBERING BOBBY AND THE LATE GREAT ED WYNN




Today we lost a veteran performer and choreographer-- the "One and Only" Thommie Walsh-- the original "Bobby" from the original production of "Chorus Line" The cause of death was complications of lymphoma. As a dance-maker, Thommie was best known for his collaborations with Tommy Tune, the lanky performer, choreographer and director who was among Broadway’s leading figures in the 1980s. Thommie received his two Tony Awards for choreography for collaborating with Mr. Tune in 1980 on “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine” and in 1983 on “My One and Only,” in which Mr. Tune starred.
Mr. Walsh also shared a Tony nomination with Mr. Tune for directing “My One and Only” and received a Tony nomination for the choreography of “Nine,” directed by Mr. Tune. Although they first worked together as dancers on Broadway in the show “Seesaw,” their choreographic collaboration began on “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” directed by Peter Masterson and Mr. Tune and choreographed by Mr. Tune. Thommie was born on March 15, 1950. He was taking dancing classes by the age of 5 at the Irma Baker School of Dance in upstate New York. By 1973, he was dancing on Broadway as a member of the chorus, under the name Thomas J. Walsh, in “Seesaw,” directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett.After appearing in one of the more notorious flops of the 1970s, “Rachael Lily Rosenbloom and Don’t You Ever Forget It,” which closed before it opened on Broadway, the always smiling Thomie won the role of Bobby in “A Chorus Line,” He was involved the workshops from which the show was developed, but would later express displeasure about how the dancers were treated during the process. They were persuaded to sign away rights to profits from any merchandising for $1, and ultimately the cast received only 1 percent of the royalties.
“Basically, we were cheated out of a lot of money,” he had claimed. “People are living in the Hamptons because of ‘A Chorus Line.’ None of us are.”
“A Chorus Line” was Mr. Walsh’s last Broadway appearance as a performer. He left the company after two years and embarked upon a career as a record promoter while also beginning to choreograph. His other Broadway credits were for musical staging on the shows “The 1940s Radio Hour” (1979), “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” (1982) and “My Favorite Year” (1993). Thommie also directed the Off Broadway musical “Lucky Stiff” and provided staging and choreography for nightclub acts and solo spots for performers including Donna McKechnie and Priscilla Lopez (two more alumni of the original cast of “Chorus Line”), as well as for Chita Rivera, Sandy Duncan and Barbara Cook.In recent years Mr. Walsh worked as a real estate agent in Manhattan, where he lived. And on this date in 1966, we lost one of my all time favorite performers: the one and only Ed Wynn. What an amazing performer! One only has to look at not only his comedy but his dramatic roles such as Van Kessel in "Diary Of Anne Frank"

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