Broadway Icon Ann Reinking Passes Away At 71

Ann Reinking in ‘All That Jazz’ (screen capture)

Tony Award-winning actress/dancer/choreographer Ann Reinking (Chicago, Fosse, Pippin, Sweet Charity, Over Here!) passed away Saturday night at the age of 71.

From Variety:

She is perhaps best known for playing Roxie Hart in 1977’s “Chicago,” replacing Gwen Verdon. She reprised the part when she returned for the 1996 revival of the famed production.

“The hope is that in rediscovering ‘Chicago,’ audiences will rediscover what theater was,” Reinking told The New York Times at the time of the show’s revival. “It was sophisticated, complicated, adult.”

Her work on the later “Chicago” ultimately earned her a Tony Award for best choreography.

Reinking was also the co-creator, co-director and co-choreographer for “Fosse,” a musical meant to showcase Fosse’s choreography. She created the project alongside Richard Maltby Jr. and Chet Walker. The musical was Reinking’s final bow on Broadway, as she served as a replacement ensemble member in 2001.

The Broadway revival of Chicago the Musical was an unexpected and thrilling part of my career on Broadway.

I had moved to Los Angeles to be with my husband Michael in 1996, thinking perhaps my dancing career was behind me. And then, on a whim, I went to an open call for replacements for Chicago the Musical in early 1998.

Over 300 dancers attended that call, and at the end of the day, I was one of ten left standing. Three days later, Ann and director Walter Bobbie were coming through LA and the ten of us were called back to show what we had to offer.

Four months later, I got a call asking me to join the national touring company that was playing in Los Angeles, and ultimately I was hired about a dozen times over the next 15 years to go into the Broadway and touring companies. Sometimes, it would be for a year, sometimes for a month as a temporary replacement.

And I know that was because of Ann. She trusted me over and over again to be a part of her thrilling choreography.

Imagine not only meeting one of your heroes but working with them. And learning from them. And dancing right alongside them.

Ann Reinking as Roxie Hart in the Broadway revival of Chicago (photo: Max Vadukul)

One of my most memorable times with Ann was during brushup rehearsals for the Broadway company’s second anniversary.

I vividly remember, and I’ve quoted her often, her saying that dance represents tradition – and that it’s our responsibility as dancers to pass steps and style on to the next generation.

The last time I saw Ann was during her run in FOSSE in the early 2000s. We chatted backstage in her dressing room after the performance. She was, of course, brilliant.

As we parted ways leaving the Broadhurst Theater, she asked in passing, “So, you’re in NYC for a while?” I said, “Yes.”

Of course, the next day, the casting folks called – per Ann’s request – and asked if I was available to go back into Chicago.

With Ann Reinking in 1998 celebrating the 2nd anniversary of CHICAGO on Broadway

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Annie.  For the inspiration, for the laughs, for the insight, and for your genius.

RIP Ann Reinking.

By the way, just to underscore how lucky I’ve been in my theater career, I’ve danced with all three of these great stars. Color me grateful.

‘One Night Only: The Best Of Broadway’ Tonight On NBC

A quick reminder to tune in for the big Broadway celebration tonight on NBC hosted by Tina Fey in the heart of New York’s theatre district. 

One Night Only: The Best Of Broadway is bringing back the magic of the stage.

Fey promises performances from the casts of Jersey Boys, Ain’t Too Proud, Chicago the Musical, Mean Girls and more.

Catch the show tonight at 8/7c on NBC.

Chicago’s LGBTQ Neighborhood Is Changing Name From Boystown

Photo of a street sign in Chicago's Boystown, gay neighborhood

Photo of a street sign in Chicago's Boystown, gay neighborhood

From the Chicago Tribune:

Business leaders in Chicago’s largest LGBTQ neighborhood announced Wednesday that they would stop marketing the area as Boystown, following complaints that the 30-year-old name excludes women and gender nonbinary people.

Boystown will be called Northalsted and promoted as “Chicago’s Proudest Neighborhood,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the Northalsted Business Alliance, the local chamber of commerce.

The announcement follows an online survey by the Northalsted Business Alliance, answered by 7,900 people.

Of those survey-takers, 58% favored keeping the Boystown moniker and 20% said they felt unwelcomed by the Boystown name, according to Northalsted Business Alliance spokesperson Jen Gordon.

The push for changing the neighborhood’s name began with a petition which currently has 1,400+ signatures.

However, a competing petition – which calls for keeping the Boystown moniker – has over 2,000 signatures.

Viral Video Trolls Pride Flag Thief: ‘We’re So Sorry A Rainbow Bruised Your Fragile Ego’

(screen capture)

A gay couple in Chicago went viral with their cheeky video clap back aimed at a thief who stole a Pride flag from their front porch.

Twitter user BowtieinChicago shared the video which mocks the banner bandit with sass galore.

“To the person who stole the Pride flag off our front porch, we’re so sorry a rainbow bruised your fragile ego,” begins the narration. “But, don’t worry – we have next-day Amazon Prime. You can keep taking our flag but you’ll never take our pride!”

During the clip, Pride flags literally run rampant as the boys show off a plethora of newly-acquired rainbows.

The duo warns the pennant pilferer to smile for the security cameras next time as they sign off with, “Love, the big ole homos who live here.”

The Twitterverse loved the cheeky video so much its been viewed over 358,000 times and received over 42K+ Likes.

Related: Iowa Man Sentenced To 16 Years In Prison For Stealing/Burning Pride Flag

One of the best responses on Twitter read, “This is Our Culture: clapback with humor, flair, and a generous helping of Petty. Love and power to you!”

Trump Said President Was Responsible For Crime In 2016 But Not Today

During a White House press briefing today, Donald Trump was flummoxed when CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins asked the Donald why he blamed President Obama in 2016 for violent crime in Chicago, but today Trump doesn’t take responsibility.

“In 2016, you said it was President Obama’s fault when shootings in Chicago were up,” said Collins. “So why was it President Obama’s fault then, but it’s not your fault now?”

“Chicago is a disaster,” said Trump, diverting from the question. “The mayor is saying, don’t come in, the mayor is telling us not to come in.”

After Collins followed-up on the question, Trump again blamed his predecessor, “Because President Obama was invited in, and he did a poor job … he could have solved the problem.”

Podcast: Possible HIV Cure, Chicago Gayborhood Getting New Name, And More

In this episode: the NFL's homophobic email scandal, Pete Buttigieg claps back, and new music from out singer/songwriter Michael Lazar.

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• For the first time, HIV appears to be eradicated using only medications

• Poland’s anti-LGBTQ president squeaks out reelection

• White House press secretary raises eye-brows claiming Donald Trump’s “pro-LGBTQ” agenda

• Chicago’s Boystown may get a new name

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Chicago Mayor Sends Coded ‘F*** You’ To Trump

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (screen capture)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday called out Donald Trump for trying to “foment violence” and offered a coded response for tweets that appeared to threaten Minneapolis rioters protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“We see the game he’s playing because it’s so transparent and he’s not very good at it. He wants to show failures on the part of Democratic local leaders to throw red meat to his base. His goal is to polarize, to destabilize local government and inflame racist urges. And we can absolutely not let him prevail,” Lightfoot said.

“I will code what I really want to say to Donald Trump. It’s two words: It begins with F and ends with YOU.”

On Thursday night, President Trump took to Twitter as protesters surrounded a Minneapolis police station and set fire to it.

He characterized the protesters as “THUGS” and tweeted, “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

On Friday, Lightfoot accused the president with whom she has clashed repeatedly of attempting to “foment violence.” She made no apologies for the vulgar reference that ran contrary to the advice of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s infamous line that, “When they go low, we go high.”

“I am not Michelle Obama,” the mayor said.

Thousands Forced To Leave Ford Assembly Plant On Day Two Of Reopening

(screen capture via CBS 2 Chicago)

Day two of the reopened Ford assembly plant in Chicago came to a stop for many when an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar spoke to many employees who are conflicted about their working environment.

“I’m worried right now,” said employee Timothy Shy. “This is the second day, and we are already hearing about this.”

Production was temporarily halted at part of the facility and the main plant.

“Social distancing doesn’t really work,” said employee Billy Cowart.

There are changes, from the social distancing reminders outside to temperature checks and re-configured work stations inside. Ford provided a video highlighting some of the updated health changes COVID has brought along to their plants

“All these people are crowded and on top of each other,” said Michael Hopper while wearing his Ford issued face mask.

“I lost a brother to coronavirus May 6,” Hopper said.

Hopper along with others describes an experience inside the plant that doesn’t sound or look like the polished video.

“I cleaned my own workstation myself,” said Hopper. “How our jobs are set-up, if one person gets in the hole that would affect the person behind him.”

School Chaperones March Students Out Of ‘Gay’ Nutcracker

(photos: Michael Brosilow/The House Theatre)

Ohio’s Notre Dame Academy found itself in an unexpected controversy after school faculty and chaperones decided students couldn’t be exposed to a two-men playing the parents in a production of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker.

Each year the Catholic school takes its 8th graders on a field trip. This year, the school chose The House Theatre of Chicago’s production of The Nutcracker.

According to school alum Carly McGoldrick, the students were marched out of the theater before the curtain even went up once the adults in charge realized the same-sex casting.

The production has received rave reviews.

Notre Dame Academy posted this apology on its Facebook page:

We apologize for our decision for 8th graders leave to a performance of The Nutcracker before it began due to casting choices. The mistake is contrary to our inclusive spirit and reminds us our actions should affirm that we are all God’s children.

To clarify what happened, the decision was made for the NDA eighth-graders to leave a performance of The Nutcracker before it began because upon arrival they discovered that the producer had chosen to cast two men as the main character’s parents. However, the Spirit of Inclusion statement adopted by the NDA Board of Trustees in 2014 affirms that we in the Notre Dame Academy community welcome all into our Gospel community including but not limited to people of all colors, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender expression, abilities, economic classes, and nationalities.

We consider the decision to not attend the performance a mistake and sincerely apologize to anyone we offended. The action does does not reflect NDA’s true values. Rest assured we will redouble our efforts to live up to our inclusion statement.

Sometimes we teach our children as much from our mistakes as from our successes. We view this as a chance to teach our students the value of taking ownership of one’s mistakes and to reaffirm that our community is committed to inclusion.

Chicago Cop Investigated For Demanding Sex From Trans Woman Or Face Jail Time

(image via Flickr/Paul WoolrichCC license)

A transgender woman alleges a Chicago Police sargeant forced her to perform oral sex on him to avoid being arrested.

On March 5, the woman arrived at Rush University Medical Center and told the staff she had been sexually assaulted, reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to the unnamed woman, she was in an area on Fifth Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood known for prostitution. She admitted she was with a man who she referred to as her boyfriend.

A Chicago police car pulled up and asked her what she was doing in the area. The woman says she explained she was “going home.”

According to her statement via police report, he allegedly told her that if she didn’t want to go to jail she would have to perform oral sex on him saying, “Because that’s what you do.”

She says she was ordered to get in the front seat of his car, and the sargeant drove off leaving her male companion there.

He allegedly stopped in an alley, exposed himself and ordered her to perform the sex act in the vehicle. At some point, the woman says she was able to preserve DNA evidence.

During the alleged sex act, the 39-year-old woman says the officer told her, “I can make you one of my regulars.”

At the hospital, she gave staffers the DNA evidence that she said would prove her story.

But she left the hospital before filing a police report saying she was fearful of “retaliation” by police officers.

Eventually, police detectives were able to discern the woman’s identity but found contacting her to be difficult. At the same time, detectives searched through surveillance video in the area she said the assault took place.

Weeks later, detectives became aware the woman was in police custody for a shoplifting charge and were able to interview her.

The Tribune reports that the Chicago Police Department “stripped the officer of his police powers on April 6 based on the findings of an internal investigation.

A week later, the sergeant was allowed to officially retire from CPD without being charged in connection with the alleged assault.

Police say they are still awaiting the results of DNA testing.

According to the Tribune, this isn’t the officer’s first brush with internal police charges.

In 1997, he was investigated after it was discovered he threatened to plant drugs on a suspect unless they handed over a gun. While Internal Affairs recommended he be fired, he was eventually given a 30-day suspension.