Walter Bobbie

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Walter Bobbie
Born (1945-11-18) November 18, 1945 (age 73)
OccupationStage, film, television actor, dancer
AwardsTony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, 1997 Chicago
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play, 1997 Chicago

Walter Bobbie (born November 18, 1945) is an American theatre director, choreographer, and occasional actor and dancer. Bobbie has directed both musicals and plays on Broadway and Off-Broadway, and was the Artistic Director of the New York City Center Encores! concert series. He directed the long-running revival of the musical Chicago.


Early life[edit]

Bobbie was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Scranton and did graduate work at The Catholic University of America.[1] His family was Polish Roman Catholic, and his father was a coal miner.[2]

Bobbie explains what inspired him to work in theater: "My first Broadway show was How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, maybe in 1964. I came in to New York from college in Pennsylvania for the World's Fair...I remember sitting there — I practically had to be held down in my seat — and I had never seen anything like it. That day it was clear to me that I wanted to come back to New York, and theater was what I wanted to do. It was transforming the time of life and will one day grow up to become a famous director of Chicago."[3]


As a performer, Bobbie played Roger in the Broadway production of Grease in 1972. He was featured in the 1976 Broadway revival of Going Up, and he also starred on Broadway as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls, for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

He eventually turned his attention to directing, and in 1993 he wrote the book for, and directed, the Roundabout Theatre production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue A Grand Night for Singing, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical. The New York Times reviewer wrote of Bobbie's direction that he "has given its Broadway elaboration an impressive fluidity that whisks the performers through various groupings with a minimum of stiffness and posturing. In Mr. Bobbie's hands, the songs flow together in a sequence that treats them as lighthearted extensions of one another."[4]

He then directed the 1996 Broadway revival of Chicago with Ann Reinking and Bebe Neuwirth. Bobbie's 1996 revival of Chicago was inspired by his own staged concert production at City Center Encores!. The concert was a hit, and the musical moved directly to Broadway with its original Encores! cast. Ben Brantley, in reviewing the Encores! concert, noted "As directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Ann Reinking, who also stars, 'Chicago' still stings like cheap whisky, but it also bubbles like vintage Champagne."[5] He won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Chicago.[6]

Bobbie next directed the Broadway productions of the stage musical Footloose in 1998, (he also co-wrote the book),[7] the Roundabout Theater production of Twentieth Century with Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche,[8] the 2005 Sweet Charity revival with Christina Applegate,[9] and High Fidelity in 2006. The musical White Christmas which he directed had limited engagements on Broadway in November 2008 through January 2009 and again in November 2009 through January 2010. Bobbie received the 2009 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Director of a Musical.[10]

He co-wrote and directed a new musical, The Road to Hollywood, which was performed at the Goodspeed Opera House in 2002.[11] Bobbie directed the 2005 benefit concert for Carnegie Hall of South Pacific, starring Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell.[12]

Bobbie directed the New York premiere of The Savannah Disputations by Evan Smith at the Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons in 2009, with Marylouise Burke, Dana Ivey, Kellie Overby and Reed Birney.[13] In regional theatre, he directed the new Terrence McNally play Golden Age at the Kennedy Center in 2010.[14]

Bobbie was the artistic director of the New York City Center Encores! concert series in 1995 and 1996, and also directed the staged concerts of Fiorello! (1994), Tenderloin (2000), and Golden Boy (2002). For Du Barry Was a Lady (1996) he co-adapted the book.[15] He directed the production of No, No, Nanette in 2008.[16] He appeared in Face the Music in 2007 with the New York Times reviewer writing: "A last, affectionate word for Mr. Bobbie, whose career took off in another direction when his staging of 'Chicago' for the Encores! series became a Broadway smash. As the harried Hal Reisman...he breathes fresh comic life into even some of the hoariest routines."[17]


  1. ^ "Walter Bobbie interview" (Interviewed for The Advocate, 1998), accessed January 8, 2011
  2. ^ "Walter Bobbie | The Official Masterworks Broadway Site". Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  3. ^ Piepenburg, Erik. "Walter Bobbie 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying'; Broadway, Before It Was Their Job" New York Times, June 1, 2008
  4. ^ Holden, Steven. "Review/Theater: A Grand Night for Singing; New Image for Rodgers And Hammerstein: Hip" New York Times, November 18, 1993
  5. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review:Musical's Brief Revival Mixes Joy and Contempt" New York Times, May 4, 1996
  6. ^ Lefkowitz, David. "'Titanic', 'Ballyhoo' Win Top Tonys" Archived 2012-10-19 at the Wayback Machine, June 1, 1997
  7. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review:A Little Town Goes A Little Footloose" New York Times, October 23, 1998
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review:Three Egos, Two Stars, One War" New York Times, March 26, 2004
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review:'Sweet Charity,' After a Rocky Road, Finally Reaches Broadway" New York Times, May 5, 2005
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Drama Desk Nominees Announced; 9 to 5 Garners Record-Breaking 15 Noms" Archived 2009-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, April 27, 2009
  11. ^ Croteau, Genevieve. Swing To 'Road To Hollywood'" Hartford Courant, August 8, 2002
  12. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theatre Review:Sultry City Night Is Transformed Into an Enchanted Bali Ha'i New York Times, June 11, 2005
  13. ^ Isherwood, Christopher. "Dodging Hellfire, Armed With Quips and the Obliging Father Murphy" New York Times, March 4, 2009
  14. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Walter Bobbie Talks About McNally's Golden Age at the Kennedy Center", March 29, 2010
  15. ^ Encores! Previous Seasons, 1994-2010" Archived 2012-06-29 at the Wayback Machine New York City Center, accessed January 8, 2011
  16. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theater Review:Roaring Twenties Speakeasies With Tubs Full of Ginger Ale Fizz" New York Times, May 10, 2008
  17. ^ Isherwood, Christopher. "Theater Review:Let’s Put on an Automat! Cue Cops and Cheesecake" New York Times, March 31, 2007

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