Ann Reinking, the Broadway star whose elegant style, mesmerizing physicality, and piercing look lit up musicals, including Chicago, has passed away at the age of 71. Her former co-star Chita Rivera was among those who paid tribute, saying that Reinking’s “mind and excitement-blinding will be with me forever”. Reinking’s manager, Lee Gross, said she died on Saturday while visiting family in Seattle.
Reinking had roles on Cabaret, Pippin and Goodtime Charley (as Joan of Arc) before taking the role of the ambitious, murderous Roxie Hart in Chicago in 1977. Twenty years later she reprized the role and won a Tony Award for choreographing the revival. of that musical in the style of the maker Bob Fosse. She and Fosse had a long relationship on and off the stage; she starred in his show Dancin ‘and directed and co-choreographed a Broadway revue in honor of his work. Their lives are explored in the acclaimed Fosse / Verdon miniseries, in which Reinking is played by Margaret Qualley.
In Fosse’s semi-autobiographical 1979 film All That Jazz, Reinking’s song There’ll Be Some Changes Made captures the glittering, steely darkness of his style, complete with shrugs, wrist flicks and pelvic thrusts. Her film career has included a celebrated role in Annie as the friendly Grace Farrell, who helps the red-haired orphan settle in Daddy Warbucks’s home and shares the song I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here. She played one of the two wives of Dudley Moore’s character in the bigamy comedy Micki and Maude (1984).
Born November 10, 1949 in Seattle, Reinking took ballet lessons as a child and studied with San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet. She arrived in New York in her late teens and danced at Radio City Music Hall before getting her first Broadway roles, including a role opposite Katharine Hepburn in Coco.
Reinking lived in Arizona with her husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Christopher.
Chicago returned to London in 2018. “Every step is basically a word,” she said in an interview with Guardian that year, “especially with musical theater, because you’re not doing it for the sake of dance, you’re promoting a story – and, more than that, a moral. produces a story. So the steps – as well as the lyrics and the music – always combine to advance the story. They are really a different form of language. “