Ann Reinking: Broadway actress and dancer dies aged 71

Ann Reinking, the US Broadway actress, dancer and Tony Award-winning choreographer, has died aged 71.

Reinking portrayed Roxie Hart in the hit crime musical, Chicago, in 1977.

The news of her death was confirmed by her sister-in-law Dahrla King on Monday.

“The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party,” her family said in a statement.

“We will miss her more than we can say,” they added. “Heaven has the best choreographer available now.

“I’m sure they are dancing up a storm up there!”

The cause of Reinking’s death has not yet been confirmed.

Dancer and choreographer Christopher Dean paid tribute to the late stage star on Facebook.

“The lights on Broadway are forever more dim this morning and there is one less star in the sky,” he announced.

Actor and comedian Billy Eichner called Reinking “one of the most mesmerizing people I’ve ever seen on stage”.

While Filmmaker Julia Hart recalled taking dance classes from her in New York years ago.

“I remember every moment of it. Nobody moved like her,” she posted on Twitter..

“All That Jazz is my favourite movie of all time. Rest in peace you singular, exquisite artist.”

Reinking replaced Gwen Verdon in Chicago’s starring role in 1977.

The show was directed by Bob Fosse, with whom both actresses were romantically and artistically involved at various points.

She played a fictionalised version of herself, as Fosse’s girlfriend and muse in the 1979 autobiographical film, All That Jazz. And the complex personal period was chronicled again recently in the Sam Rockwell-starring mini-series Fosse/Verdon, which picked up Golden Globe and Emmy awards in 2020.

Speaking to The New Yorker last year, Reinking explained that rather than being rivals, her and Fosse’s former wife Verdon had became unlikely friends.

“Gwen and Bob had been legally separated for close to three years, and they had both gone on with their lives with other people, so I wasn’t an intruder,” said Reinking, who was depicted by US actress Margaret Qualley in Fosse/Verdon.

“I never had an altercation with Gwen. She respected me. And I trusted her. I trusted Bob. I trusted Gwen. And I was right to. My instincts weren’t incorrect at all. They never hurt me, and they were on my side.”

Reinking reprised her role as Roxy when she returned for Chicago’s 1996 revival.

A Tony Award (the stage equivalent of an Oscar) came her way for her choreography work on the long-running production in 1997.

Reinking’s career began at in Seattle Opera House production of Bye Bye Birdie in 1965 and she soon found her way to Broadway, being cast in the ensemble for the 1969 production of Cabaret.

Her other Broadway roles include Sweet Charity, Over Here! and Goodtime Charley.

She is survived by her husband, Peter Talbert, and her son Chris.

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