The Last Dance for Legendary Marge Champion
The world has lost another dance great. Marge Champion, was a legend in the dance world, who when paired with her ex-husband Gower won the hearts of musical theater lovers all over the world. Last night at the age of 101 Marge went to dance in heaven.
Marge, started performing at age 14, one or two days a month (for $10 a day) for two years. Her father was famed Hollywood dance and ballet teacher Ernest Belcher, who taught Astaire, Shirley Temple, Cyd Charisse and was friends with Walt Disney, and the all-male animation team working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Marge, at 5-foot-2 was the real-life model for Snow White danced on screen as the animators studied her movements.
You can watch her thanks to Johnathon Barker. Marge also stepped in for Dopey. She was also the live model for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio (1940), Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia (1940) and for Mr. Stock in Dumbo (1941).
At 17, she married Art Babbitt, the Disney animator who created Goofy (he was 29) they divorced four years later. She then played Snow White for real with The Three Stooges. Famed agent Henry Willson, gave her the last name Bell and she appeared in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, starring Astaire and Rogers as the legendary ballroom dancers, and Honor of the West.
Moving to Broadway she made her Broadway debut as The Fair Witch in Dark of the Moon and followed that up with Beggar’s Holiday.
Though meeting in high school, it wasn’t until Marge was teamed with Gower Champion that they started to work steadily in nightclubs and alongside Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on NBC’s The Admiral Broadway Revue. Marge and Gower’s first big show was in the “Persian Room” of the Plaza Hotel in New York. Their first movie together was in “$ Mr. Music” with Bing Crosby and their first starring picture was in “Everything I Have is Yours.” Dancing together in several MGM musicals, they are best known for Show Boat, and “Life Upon the Wicked Stage.” The couple also danced in Lovely to Look At, Roberta, Everything I Have Is Yours, Give a Girl a Break, Jupiter’s Darling starring Esther Williams and Three for the Show with Jack Lemmon.
They were so popular that they danced for multiple ads including: Ipan Toothpaste, Camel Cigaettes, General Tire and Kroehler furniture Advertisements.
They starred on their own CBS TV sitcom The Marge and Gower Champion Show. They were regular guests on The Ed Sullivan Show and toured the Soviet Union with the legendary TV host.
Starting to choreograph the couple lent their talent to the Broadway shows Small Wonder, Lend an Ear and Make a Wish. Marge served as her husband’s assistant on Hello, Dolly!, starring Carol Channing.
Marge, went on to win an Emmy for choreographing the acclaimed 1975 telefilm Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. She also choreographed the films The Day of the Locust and Whose Life Is It Anyway? starring Richard Dreyfuss.
Marge also acted opposite Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer and with Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ The Party. She played a ballet teacher on a 1982 episode of Fame and appeared as Emily Whitman in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies.
Her third and last husband was director Boris Sagal. He died from injuries after he accidentally walked into the blade of a helicopter during production of the NBC miniseries World War III. Survivors include a step-daughter, actress Katey Sagal, TV producer Liz Sagal, stepson Joey, an actor and her son, producer-director Gregg Champion.
Marge lived at the Manhattan Plaza and will live on in her brilliant work.
League of Professional Theatre Women’s 10th Annual Women Stage The World March
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) will hold its 10th Annual “Women Stage the World March” — a Suffragette-inspired project to educate the public about the role of women in the theatre industry — on Saturday, June 17. The march will begin at noon, at Shubert Alley and weave through Times Square and the Broadway Theatre District, wrapping up at about 2 p.m.
“The event is FREE and LPTW invites all theatre women and allies to join us as we increase awareness, lift our voices, and advocate for more opportunities for women in theatre,” said Ludovica Villar-Hauser, Co-President of LPTW.
“The Women Stage the World March is designed to educate the public about the role women play in creating theatre and the barriers they face as men continue to outnumber women by 4 to 1 in key roles such as playwright, director and designers. Women buy 67% of the tickets and represent 65% of the audience, yet 80% of the storytelling on stage is shaped by men’s voices,” said Katrin Hilbe, Co-President of LPTW.
Handouts during the March will prompt ticket-buyers to ask three questions as they make buying decisions: (1) Who wrote, directed and designed this play? (2) What is this theatre’s track record in giving opportunities to women? (3) How can you spread the word and promote women’s voices?
“All participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite historical theatre woman, or dress all in white. March participants will gather at Shubert Alley starting at 11:30 AM, in preparation for the start of the march at noon. Women Stage the World sashes and signs will be provided, as supplies last,” noted Penelope Deen, LPTW member and organizer of the event. Those interested in participating in the event please R.S.V.P. at: https://www.theatrewomen.org/women-stage-the-world or contact Penelope Deen at: Womenstagetheworld@Theatrewomen.org
LPTW Co-President Ludovica Villar-Hauser added: “The League of Professional Theatre Women stands alongside the Writers Guild of America (WGA) as they demand fair wages and take action to ensure more protections for artists. We encourage LPTW members to find a time to join the WGA on the picket lines this month as the strike continues. Women writers are the future of the film and television industry, just as they lead the way in theatre. LPTW supports the women on the frontlines of this movement as they call for long overdue change. We are stronger together.”
For the past 10 years LPTW members, affiliated union members, theatre artists and their allies have hit the streets in a March reminiscent of the Suffragette parades of the early 20th Century, with some marchers dressed in traditional suffrage garb and colors. Like the Suffragettes before them, participants in the Women Stage the World March empower women and men to become aware, take action and influence others.
The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) is a membership organization championing women in theatre and advocating for increased equity and access for all theatre women. Our programs and initiatives create community, cultivate leadership, and increase opportunities and recognition for women working in theatre. The organization provides support, networking and collaboration mechanisms for members, and offers professional development and educational opportunities for all theatre women and the general public. LPTW celebrates the historic contributions and contemporary achievements of women in theatre, both nationally and around the globe, and advocates for parity in employment, compensation and recognition for women theatre practitioners through industry-wide initiatives and public policy proposals. LPTW is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Chicago
John Kander & Fred Ebb / Bob Fosse musical Chicago is now the longest running show playing on Broadway. Having played 10,338 performances, Chicago is the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking hit musical playing at the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St., NYC.
Ham4Ham: Some Like It Hot, Parade and Shucked With Special Guests
Lin-Manuel Miranda brought out a. special edition of Ham4Ham outside the Richard Rodgers Theater yesterday and it was a star studded afternoon.
First up Leopoldstadt stars Josh Molina and Brandon Uranowitz introduced Some Like It Hot‘s J. Harrison Ghee, who performed “You Coulda Knocked Me Over With a Feather” accompanied by the show’s composer, Marc Shaiman. You can watch the beginning of this and the whole performance of that song here.
Then Nikki Crawford and playwright James Ijames from Fat Ham, introduced composer Jason Robert Brown and performers Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond who perform the duet “This Is Not Over Yet” from the must see revival of Parade.
The Thanksgiving Play stars D’Arcy Carden and Chris Sullivan introduced book writer Robert Horn and the Tony-nominated cast of Shucked recreated new lyrics for “We Love Jesus” and a parody of Hamilton‘s “The Story of Tonight.”led by Ashley D. Kelley, Grey Henson, Andrew Durand and Kevin Cahoon
This was a spectacular afternoon that can only be had in NYC.
T2c would love to thank these three ladies who gave us a chair to sit on.
The Outer Critics Circle Awards and You Are There Part 2
Yesterday the 72nd Annual Awards honoring achievements in the 2022-2023 Broadway and Off-Broadway season were presented at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Here are highlights from the show.
Outstanding New Score: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – Some Like It Hot
T2c interviewed the fantastic duo.
Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: Bill Irwin –Endgame
Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Musical: Alex Newell – Shucked
Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Musical: J. Harrison Ghee
Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Play: Brandon Uranowitz – Leopoldstadt
T2c talked to this amazing performer before the ceremony.
Special Achievement Award:To B.H. Barry, one of the world’s foremost fight directors.
Outstanding New Broadway Play: Leopoldstadt and Outstanding Director of a Play:Patrick Marber – Leopoldstadt
Outstanding New Broadway Musical: Some Like It Hot Robert E. Wankel and Neil Meron
Broadway’s Samantha Pauly and Reeve Carney Come To Chelsea Table and Stage
On May 29th catch Samantha Pauly for Memorial Day. Best known for originating the role of Katherine Howard in Broadway’s smash hit SIX the Musical, and her captivating performance as Eva Peron in Jamie Lloyd’s critically acclaimed revival of Evita on London’s West End, Samantha Pauly has carefully crafted an evening that reflects the last few years of her life. Join this Grammy nominee and Drama Desk Award winner as she revisits some career highlights, Broadway classics, pop/rock favorites, and all the fun stuff in between.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and actor Reeve Carneyreturns to Chelsea Table + Stage June 4th to perform a night of music honoring the artistry of the legendary rock n’ roll supergroup Led Zeppelin. Carney is best known for his portrayal of Dorian Grayin on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Riff Raff in Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show Reimagining, as well as originating the role of Peter Parker in Julie Taymor/U2’s Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark. He is currently starring in the Broadway blockbuster, Hadestown. Reeve Carney delivers a one-man-show cabaret that feels more like an invitation-only after-party than a traditional concert performance. Don’t miss this special performance from one of Broadway’s leading actors!
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