|Born||Thomas Joseph Walsh III
March 15, 1950
Auburn, New York, USA
|Died||June 16, 2007
Auburn, New York, USA
||This section of a biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
Thommie Walsh was born in Auburn, New York, and began to study dancing at age five at the Irma Baker School of Dance at age five. After high school, he went to the Boston Conservatory of Music, but left during his junior year to tour with Disney on Parade. He joined the national tour of Applause, starring Lauren Bacall, and the company of The Ann-Margaret Las Vegas Show. He was in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar as the apostle Thaddeus. Walsh made his Broadway debut in the chorus of Seesaw in 1973, the same year in which he appeared in the disastrous Broadway flop Rachael Lily Rosenbloom (And Don't You Ever Forget It), which starred Ellen Greene and Anita Morris.
A Chorus Line
In 1975 Walsh was invited by choreographer Tony Stevens to participate in a series of frank conversations among Broadway dancers, known as "gypsies," about their experiences, hopes, and dreams. The result was Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line (1976), in which he originated the role of Bobby. The role of Bobby was in large part based on his life and also used material from a comedy stand-up routine he used at the time. (Samples: "I thought about killing myself, but then I realized to commit suicide in Buffalo is redundant." and "I used to break into people's houses. I didn't steal anything; I'd just rearrange their furniture.") He co-wrote a book with Baayork Lee, another Chorus Line cast member, about the musical's origins and evolution, entitled On the Line, which was published by William Morrow in 1990.
Choreography and direction
Walsh soon abandoned his dancing career to concentrate on choreography, musical staging, and direction. His credits include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1978) with Chorus cast member Pam Blair, The 1940's Radio Hour (1979), A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (1980), with Chorus cast member Priscilla Lopez, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (1982), Nine (1982), My One and Only (1983) with Chorus cast member Ron Dennis, Marilyn: An American Fable (1983), and My Favorite Year (1992). He received the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his choreography in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine and My One and Only which also earned him a Tony nomination for best direction. He went on to direct Lucky Stiff off-Broadway, Always (West End debut), and A Broadway Baby at Goodspeed Opera House.
With such a developed reputation in the industry, Walsh was brought in as a show doctor on many of Broadway's shows during the 1980s, such as The Grand Tour, Black and Blue, The Tap Dance Kid; he also choreographed many numbers in Grand Hotel. Walsh has also directed and staged musical numbers for Chita Rivera, Sandy Duncan, Mitzi Gaynor, Donna McKechnie, Whoopi Goldberg, Lorna Luft, Priscilla Lopez, Joel Grey, and Barbara Cook. Walsh's last direction and choreography before his death was the national tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Ann-Margret and Gary Sandy.
At the time of his death, he was preparing a musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities for a Broadway opening. Much of his outstanding work was done in collaboration with Tommy Tune, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Thommie also judged for Danny Hoctor's Dance Caravan and Stars of Tomorrow in conjunction with the Professional Dance Teachers Association.
Thommie was known for his unique sense of style (Example: Checkered Vans with a Pinstriped Suit), as well as his incomparable and well known sense of humor.
Thommie Walsh died at his Auburn, New York home from lymphoma at age 57.
Awards and nominations
- 1976 Theatre World Award for Ensemble Performance – "A Chorus Line"
- 1980 Tony Award for Outstanding Choreography – "A Day in Hollywood /A Night in the Ukraine"
- 1980 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – "A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine"
- 1983 Tony Award for Outstanding Choreography – "My One And Only"
- 1983 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography- "My One And Only"
- 1982 Tony Award for Outstanding Choreography – "Nine"
- 1983 Tony Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical – "My One And Only"
- Viagas, Robert; Lee, Baayork; Walsh, Thommie (1990). On the Line: The Creation of a Chorus Line (First ed.). New York: William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-08429-X.
- Charles Isherwood (2007-06-19). "Thommie Walsh, Dancer and Tony Winner, Dies at 57". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-13.[dead link]
- Andrew Gans (17 Jun 2007). "Thommie Walsh, Tony-Winning Choreographer, Dead at 57". playbill. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
- Thommie Walsh official website
- Thommie Walsh at the Internet Broadway Database
- Thommie Walsh at the Internet Movie Database
- Thommie Walsh at the Internet Off-Broadway Database