Monday, July 2

RIP Dame Gillian Lynne - a true inspiration

Such sad news today that Dame Gillian Lynne has passed away at the age of 92. She was the lady that inspired me to work in this crazy business after I sat through the second preview of her groundbreaking  production of Cats at the New London Theatre (just  renamed the Gillian Lynne Theatre ) over 37 years ago in 1981. 

Her devoted husband of 40 years Peter Land,  tweeted yesterday evening to announce the news of her death at 6.20pm  at the Princess Grace Hospital.

Lynne began her career as a dancer with Sadler's Wells Ballet with roles created for her by Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann. She had an extraordinary career of over 50 years  behind some of the most and iconic musical theatre including the movement in Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Aspects of Love. She worked for companies and organisations including the Royal Opera House, the RSC and The Australian Ballet as well as directing for The Muppet Show.

She was made a dame in 2014 with one of her final appearances (when she looked frail) at the New London Theatre on 22nd June when Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh paid tribute to the dancer and choreographer. It  has become the first West End venue named after a non-royal woman. with Mackintosh saying: The two things I learnt on the first day of rehearsals [with you] was that you had the wickedest sense of humour ever and you liked to get your own way.You've made many stars look wonderful over your career, but today you are the star of this theatre. Lord Lloyd Webber paid tribute on Twitter saying : Farewell dearest Gillie, three generations of the British musical owe so much to you.

Other awards received by Lynne include a Special Olivier Award in 2013, an Olivier Award for Cats, a CBE and two Tony nominations, for the choreography on Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.

I know I will be one of many people who knew or worked with her raising a glass to drink to her memory with a tear in my eye ....

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