Monday, August 19, 2013


    UPDATE: Sadly Ann Reinking died at the age of 71 on December 14th, 2020. You can read more about it: HERE

My three year old does not watch television much. However, just recently he watched his first movie from beginning to end: Annie (1982). It a musical with cheesy good news that even my wife got into. She wanted to know who played Grace Farrell ,who was the secretary to Daddy Warbucks. I told her it was the great Ann Reinking, and I started wondering what she is doing now some thirty years after the movie came out.

Born on November 10, 1949, Reinking originally trained as a ballet dancer. She studied with Marian and Illaria Ladre, a professional ballet couple who had danced for years with the Ballets Russes which later became the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. After working as a chorus girl in Coco, Wild and Wonderful, and Pippin, Reinking came to critical notice in the role of Maggie in Over Here! (Theatre World Award).

Reinking went on to originate roles in Goodtime Charley (for which she received Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress in a Musical) and Bob Fosse's Dancin' (Tony nomination). She also took over leads in A Chorus Line (1976), Chicago in 1977, and Sweet Charity (1986).

In 1979 Reinking appeared in Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical film All That Jazz, in a role loosely based on her own life and relationship with Fosse. In the film, Reinking starred opposite Leland Palmer, Jessica Lange, Ben Vereen, John Lithgow, and Roy Scheider as Joe Gideon (a role loosely based on Bob Fosse). All That Jazz and Annie would be the two most popular films that Reinking would appear in.

She founded the Broadway Theater Project, a Florida training program connecting students with seasoned theater professionals, in 1994. In 1995, she choreographed the ABC television movie version of the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie.

After retiring from performing, Reinking returned to the stage as Roxie Hart in the revival of Chicago in 1996. In 1996, she was asked to create the choreography ("in the style of Bob Fosse") for an all-star four-night-only concert staging of Chicago for City Center's annual Encores! Concert Series. When the producers could not obtain a suitable actress for the role of Roxie Hart, Reinking agreed to reprise the role again after almost 20 years. This concert staging of Chicago was a hit, and a few months later the production (in its concert staging presentation) was produced on Broadway, along with its cast. In November 2009 the revival celebrated its 13th year on Broadway. The revival of Chicago won numerous Tony Awards, and Reinking won the Tony Award for Choreography. She recreated her choreography for the 1997 London transfer of Chicago which starred Ute Lemper and Ruthie Henshall.

In 1998 she co-created, co-directed and co-choreographed the revue Fosse, for which she received a Tony Award co-nomination for Best Direction of a Musical.

Reinking is perhaps best known for popularizing the dance step that would later be known as "raising the roof." Reinking insisted on including the step in the choreography for the musical number "We've Got Annie" in the 1982 screen adaptation of Annie, describing it as "the expression of pure joy."

Since 2010, Reinking is focusing on a cause that's close to her heart: the fight against the negative body image associated with Marfan's Syndrome. Marfan's is a rare genetic disorder of the connective tissues. It can affect the bones, eyes and heart; people with Marfan's usually have limbs that are disproportionately long. Long perhaps, but appealing to a choreographer like Reinking.

Dance is "one of the greatest loves on my life," Ann Reinking told ABC News. "I just fell in love, that's all I wanted to do." So she set out to highlight the beauty of being different through choreographed dance, choosing to focus on accentuating the long lines and silhouettes of people struggling with Marfans.

It is a cause that is close to her heart - her son Chris was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder 15 years ago. It is a painful disease, and those with Marfans can undergo countless surgeries to correct their spines and vision; they also must remain constantly vigilant that their hearts don't grow too large.

Renking has recently been quoted as saying "The human spirit is the greatest thing on earth. To be a part of that, whether it is to have people forget their problems … we're all of a sudden tangible, right there, you can truly touch it, you can truly see it's there. That's the best thing for me."


  1. Ann is a a true champion for the Marfan community! She is a gem and we are so fortunate that she has so willingly shared her talents to help improve the self-esteem of people with Marfan syndrome and related disorders. To learn more about these conditions, visit And check out the clips of her documentary, In My Hands. They are on our website too.

    Eileen Masciale
    The Marfan Foundation

    1. Ann is an amazing woman. I believe my father passed away from Marfans several years back and I still have trouble coping with it. Your organization as well as ann reinking have inspired me so much t would be an honor to be apart of it and meet all of you Including Ann Reinking. Please if you can help me in any way or just want to chat at email me at

  2. Thank you, thank you for all this great info. I was a fan already, but this clinches it. What a woman!

  3. This lady is my idol. I would give anything to meet her. She has done so much for the Marfans Syndrome community.

  4. I was very tangentially acquainted with Ms. Reinking when she was a chorus member in the cast of Pippin, and I was a standby for the role of Theo. I remember her being a passionate performer, and I was excited when she (as Jill Clayburgh's understudy) got to perform the role of Catherine on stage for the first time. It is fascinating to read how her life unfolded... Thank you for writing this profile of her.

  5. I knew her years ago, she came to my school (Chris Stuart was enrolled there too, a classmate of mine.) Mrs. Reinking is indeed a wonderful woman, humble and just a good human.

    Funny story, she was slightly embarrassed about this image from Chicago:

    I saw a cd album for Chicago(The Stage Cast) and told her. She described it as "Me looking like a dangerous woman."

    She's been living quietly; but I can't tell where, as she put confidence in me to keep her privacy. All I ask is that; if you do learn of her location, do not spread it and do not bother her. I ask this with great amounts of hope that everyone that sees this will be trustworthy.