极速时时彩网站 www.f2far.cn Gillian Lynne, a mainstay of the British stage who partnered with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to choreograph a clowder of tail-shaking felines and a cape-twirling “phantom” in two of the most popular shows in musical theater history — “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera” — died July 1 at a hospital in London. She was 92.
The cause was pneumonia, said her husband, actor Peter Land.
Ms. Lynne was among the finest choreographers in Britain, where she was a teenage soloist with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet company (now the Royal Ballet), danced the cancan at the London Coliseum, staged productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Opera, and helped popularize a modern, jazz-based dance style in the theaters of London’s West End.
Yet she was best known for her two blockbusters with Lloyd Webber, productions that have collectively grossed several billion dollars worldwide and succeeded each other as the longest-running shows on Broadway.
“Quite simply, Gillian Lynne was a seminal figure in choreography for three generations, possibly four as her groundbreaking work in ‘Cats’ is still being seen around the world,” Lloyd Webber said in a statement.
Before “Cats” premiered at the New London Theatre in 1981, he continued, “The idea of a British musical with dance at its heart was unthinkable. It is no exaggeration that ‘Cats’ opened with the only cast available who could have played their roles. It was Gillie’s depth of contacts from her ballet roots to her work in contemporary dance that made it possible to open ‘Cats’ in Britain and prove the naysayers wrong.”
Their partnership was initiated by producer Cameron Mackintosh, who gave Ms. Lynne a copy of “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” — the collection of whimsical T.S. Eliot poems that inspired “Cats” — and told her to catch a train to meet Lloyd Webber.
“They got around a piano and didn’t stop talking or playing for two hours,” Land said in a phone interview.
The result was a sung-through musical told largely through the choreography of Ms. Lynne, who aimed to endow the show’s feline characters with personalized paw movements, leaps and hip thrusts. She was inspired in part by her own cat, Scarlett.
Reviewing the show’s 1982 Broadway opening for the New York Times, theater critic Frank Rich offered qualified praise for director Trevor Nunn and Ms. Lynne, who also served as associate director. “It’s the highest achievement .?.?. that they use movement to give each cat its own personality even as they knit the entire company into a cohesive animal kingdom.”
Amid occasional groans from critics, “Cats” ran for 7,485 performances before closing in 2000 and ceding its longevity record to “Phantom.” (A revival was mounted on Broadway in 2016, with “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler replacing Ms. Lynne. “It makes me feel like I’d like to murder,” she said of the choreography changes.)
Ms. Lynne reportedly turned down an offer to choreograph Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods” to work on “Phantom,” a gothic romance based on a novel by Gaston Leroux. The musical opened in London in 1986 and on Broadway two years later, and has continued to run ever since, with Ms. Lynne periodically checking in with the cast to assess their performance.
Even in her 70s and beyond, she was known to walk onstage and demonstrate dance steps. “You may be a tiny bit out of line in a chorus,” one actor told the Independent in 1999, amid rehearsals for a Lynne-directed pantomime in London, “and you think you’ve got away with it, but, oh no, Gillian will take you to one side afterward and say, ‘Darling, you need me to sort you out, don’t you?’ ”
Gillian Barbara Pyrke was born in Bromley, a suburb of London, on Feb. 20, 1926. Her father ran a general store, and her mother was a homemaker and talented performer whose father had forbidden her from singing or dancing. She died in a car accident when Ms. Lynne was 13.
In her 2011 memoir, “A Dancer in Wartime,” Ms. Lynne wrote that she dedicated her career to her mother. She said she experienced a spiritual vision during an early performance with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company, before an audience that included the royal family.
“There was my mother above and all around me, willing me to dance with all my soul. .?.?. We were alone, entering the world she had always wanted for me, and I offered up my dance to her.”
Ms. Lynne often noted that her dance career was something of an accident, the result of a chance suggestion from a medical specialist. Hyperactive as a child, she was known as “Wriggle Bottom” at school and taken to a doctor who sat patiently while Ms. Lynne’s mother explained that young Gillie — noticeably squirming — couldn’t sit still.
On a hunch, the specialist turned on a radio and left the room with Ms. Lynne’s mother, where they watched as the young girl jumped on a desk and danced across the room. “There is nothing wrong with your child,” Ms. Lynne recalled the doctor saying. “She needs to learn to dance. She is a born dancer.”
Ms. Lynne began performing with a group called Ballet Guild, where the director gave her the name Lynne after “Pyrke” was continually misspelled, Land said, and joined Sadler’s Wells on her 18th birthday.
Performing as the Lilac Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty,” the Black Queen in “Checkmate” and the Queen of the Wilis in “Giselle,” she was a young star of the company but left after seeing a production of “South Pacific” in the United States, keen on performing outside the confines of traditional ballet.
An appearance in “The Master of Ballantrae” (1953), an Errol Flynn swashbuckler, soon followed; she portrayed Flynn’s dancing lover, a part she said she played offstage as well.
Ms. Lynne established herself as an audacious choreographer with the 1963 production -“Collages,” which starred actor Dudley Moore and “combined ballet with jazz and words,” she later said. It attracted the attention of director David Merrick, who enlisted her to choreograph and stage the 1965 musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint — The Smell of the Crowd,” her first foray on Broadway.
Ms. Lynne later collaborated with Merrick on the musicals “Pickwick” and “How Now, Dow Jones.” Her subsequent choreography credits included episodes of “The Muppet Show,” the 1983 movie “Yentl,” the Lloyd Webber production “Aspects of Love” and a 2002 production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” at the London Palladium.
By Ms. Lynne’s count, she directed more than 60 productions on Broadway or the West End.
Her marriage to Patrick Back, a barrister, ended in divorce. She lived in London with Land, her husband of 40 years and sole immediate survivor, whom she met while working on a production of “My Fair Lady.”
Ms. Lynne received two Olivier Awards, the highest honor in London theater, and was named a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1997 and a dame commander in 2014.
Days before her death, the New London Theatre was renamed the Gillian Lynne Theatre in her honor, marking the first time a West End theater was named for a nonroyal woman. The dedication ceremony featured a dance number from “Cats,” during which Ms. Lynne was carried onstage aboard a feather-adorned sedan chair.
“For me dancing has always been the ultimate joy,” she told Australia’s Sun-Herald in 2008. “When you’re right on your form and you’re doing a role you love, especially if you’re doing it somewhere like the Met or Covent Garden, it beats everything. It even beats making love. Usually lasts longer anyway.”