Wayne Lamb

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Wayne Lamb

Michael "Wayne" Lamb (October 24, 1920 – June 5, 2001) was a Broadway dancer, choreographer, theatre director, and dance professor.

Beginnings in Kansas[edit]

Lamb was born in Centerville, Kansas and attended the University of Wichita and the University of Kansas[1]

Earl Carroll's Vanities[edit]

He left college to tour with Earl Carroll's Vanities, playing five shows a day on the movie circuit for 3 months.[2] "They said if I was interested in joining them, I had to be in Kansas City the next morning. So I quickly quit school and joined the show." The movie circuit consisted of performing between movie screenings at theatres across the country.[3]

Military Service[edit]

His fledgling career was interrupted by the World War II draft. He spent the next three years in an Army uniform, chauffeuring officers and the occasional entertainer - such as Marlene Dietrich and Dinah Shore - around Europe.[3] He received five Battle Stars and the Bronze Star.

Study in New York[edit]

After his discharge and the GI bill,[4] he went to New York City,[5][6] where he immediately enrolled at the former Alviene School for the Dramatic Arts,[7] where Fred Astaire studied.[3] He was also a student at the American Theatre Wing from 1947–50, studying dance with Russian ballet teachers Helena Platova and Edward Caton, English ballet teachers Antony Tudor and Margaret Craske, Modern dance pioneers Martha Graham, Hanya Holm[8] and Doris Humphrey, Japanese modern teacher Yeichi Nimura,[9] and African-American modern dance innovator Katherine Dunham.[2]

Studying with Doris Humphrey[edit]

Jack Ragotzy recalls a story that Lamb told about choreographing a poem for Doris Humphrey: "After the piece was presented," he said, "she gave me the best advice of my life. 'Never work on anything unless you can add something of yourself to the work. If you can't add something of yourself, the work is already complete and there is no need for you to spend your time or energy on it.'"[8]

Professional Beginnings[edit]

Lamb joined the national touring company of The Day Before Spring, which closed three days after its debut in Chicago during a crippling coal strike.[3] A month later, he would receive his Broadway debut.


Lamb appeared in six Broadway musicals.[6] He first appeared as a solo dancer in the 1946 revival of the Franz Lehár operetta Yours is My Heart at the Shubert Theatre, lasting two months;[10] Bloomer Girl,[11] also at the Shubert Theatre starring Celeste Holm with choreography by Agnes Demille,[12] and the musical revue Make Mine Manhattan (1948–1949) at the Broadhurst Theatre with Sid Caesar, which ran for 429 performances.[13] Other Broadway shows included The Day Before Spring, which opened on November 22, 1945 at the National Theatre, where it ran for 167 performances, and the national company[14] of Call Me Mister, which included Bob Fosse, Carl Reiner, and Buddy Hackett in the cast. Wayne was the ballet dancer and Bob Fosse the tap dancer in this production.[14] The show ran 15 months in venues all over the country.[6][15] Lamb was in the Pre-Broadway tryout of Bonanza Bound, choreographed by Jack Cole and included Gwen Verdon in the chorus with Lamb. Writer/Director Joe Stockdale recalls Jack Ragotsy's first impression of Lamb in Call Me Mister in Chicago: "As a young dancer he had an animal grace that was electric in its force and energy."[14]

He also worked with actress Vivian Blaine, writer Mel Brooks, director George S. Kaufman, and comedian Imogene Coca.[16]


Lamb is listed in the Broadway World Internet Database as the choreographer for two Off-Broadway productions of Shakespeare, including A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1956 at the Jan Hus Playhouse and Twelfth Night in 1957 at the Shakespearewrights Theatre.

International tour[edit]

Lamb toured internationally from 1948-50 as a concert dancer with the Elena Imaz International Dance Trio, presenting Spanish dances created by Imaz, who was originally from Argentina. They also appeared in the Carnegie Hall Summer Concerts. A picture of Lamb with the trio is featured in the January 10, 1951 edition of the Sarasota Herald Tribune.[17][18][19]


Lamb performed as a regular dancer on The Admiral Broadway Review which became Your Show of Shows in 1950, working with Buddy Hackett, Nancy Walker and Imogene Coca. From 1952-55, he also appeared on The Martha Raye Show, Toast of the Town (later called The Ed Sullivan Show), Stop the Music with Bert Parks,[20] The Tony Martin Show, The Ezio Pinza Show, and The Bob Hope Show, also called The Colgate Comedy Hour.[2][6] Wayne himself declared that he was the first one to wear a dancebelt on television[21] in an early version of 'The Burl Ives Show. Lamb elaborated for the Kalamazoo Gazette: "They wouldn't allow me to stand up straight for fear the American public would see my crotch!"[3]

Barn Theatre[edit]

In 1955, Lamb's interest in choreography led him to the Barn Theatre, a summer stock theatre in Augusta, Michigan where he began directing musicals and plays alongside his companion, Angelo Mango, who was also an actor.[21] His first assignment for the Barn was choreography for Jack Ragotzy's South Pacific.[6] The Holland, Michigan Evening Sentinel from June 1971 states that Lamb's first show for the 1971 summer season was Hello Dolly, which opened June 29, 1971 with Jack Ragotzy as producer and Lamb as Associate Producer.[22] The cast included Angelo Mango. A 1978 Barn Theatre program bio states that Lamb had been with the Barn for 23 years and shares "top artistic and managerial decisions with Jack Ragotzy" (artistic director). Lamb was Associate Producer at that time.[6][23] Lamb worked with many acclaimed actors, including Kim Zimmer and Tom Wopat. In 2002, Joe Stockdale, a longtime Purdue Theatre colleague, wrote Man in the Spangled Pants: Jack Ragotzy and the first fifty years of the Barn Theatre.

Professional teaching[edit]

Lamb was instructor of Ballet Classes for the New Dance Group in New York City and director of the ballet department for seven years, from 1950–57, 'teaching whenever I was in town.' In 1958, he was Director of the School of Dance and Fine Arts in Hastings, Michigan. In 1967, he taught dance classes for Diamond Head Theatre in Hawaii.[24]

University teaching[edit]

Lamb taught dance for Eureka College (Illinois) in 1959, Williams College in 1962, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1964-66.

Purdue University[edit]

His teaching relationship with Purdue University began in 1960 and lasted until 1986.[2][24] He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1971, and is listed as an Associate Professor in a 1978 Barn Theatre program bio.[6] He taught ballet, broadway jazz dance, ballroom, and tap dance, his specialty.


He provided choreography for Annie Get Your Gun, The Boy Friend, Damn Yankees, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Gypsy, The Me Nobody Knows, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Once Upon a Mattress, A Midsummer Night's Dream (twice), Bury the Dead and Guys and Dolls.

Direction and choreography[edit]

He provided direction and choreography for Irma La Douce, Oliver!, Marat/Sade, Leave It to Jane, The Owl and the Pussycat, Man of La Mancha, The Killing of Sister George, Light Up the Sky, A Flea in Her Ear, George M, The Amorous Flea, Fiddler on the Roof, Our Town, Tobacco Road, The Music Man and Carousel, all with musical direction by longtime theatre colleague Dorothy Runk Mennen.[25]

USO Show[edit]

For Purdue, Lamb directed a 1974 USO Show touring the United States Pacific Command, playing 52 shows to approximately 10,678 troops in Alaska, Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii.[2][21]


Lamb was a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors' Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Association of Community Theatre.[2]


He received the title of Professor Emeritus of Theatre in 1987.[24]

At the new Pao Hall for the Performing Arts on the Purdue University campus, the Wayne Lamb Lobby was dedicated soon after the center's opening.[26]

He was honored posthumously at Purdue University Theatre's October 2010 Legacy weekend. Purdue University Theatre's website explains: (This is an honor) 'recognizing and honoring professionals and professors who have had a profound impact upon Purdue Theatre and the professional theatre.' It was also a way for our current and future students – and the faculty and staff of Purdue Theatre – to know of our history, know about the careers of these individuals and the ways in which their contributions have shaped the lives and careers of so many others.'[17] In an evening of memories, former students Dr. Anne Fliotsos and Donald Stikeleather offered dance steps and memories of Wayne. A plaque with his name will be placed adjacent to a theater on campus.[27]


After his retirement from Purdue, Lamb and partner Angelo Mango continued to live part-time in Augusta and New York City until his death on June 5, 2001 in Augusta, MI.[21] Lamb's companion, Angelo Mango, died in New York on May 12, 2013, at the age of 89.


  1. ^ "Wayne Lamb". The Legacy Project. Purdue University. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wayne Lamb, 9 page resume dated December 16, 1974, on file at Purdue University Theatre Archive, accessed by Anne Fliotsos on April 10, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Doug Pullen, "Wayne Lamb: still hoofing after all these years," Arts & Entertainment, Kalamazoo Gazette, August 11, 1985.
  4. ^ Donald Stikeleather, interview with Wayne Lamb, 1983.
  5. ^ http://www.cla.purdue.edu/vpa/theatre/documents/Theatre_Update2002.pdf - 2010-01-25
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Barn Theatre Archives, 1978 Barn Theatre program bio.
  7. ^ blog article about Alviene: Alviene, "All Things Alviene," http://alviene.blogspot.com/2008/07/alviene-academy-was-founded-by-claude-m.html, accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Stockdale, Man in the Spangled Pants: Jack Ragotzy and the First Fifty Years of the Barn Theatre. Priscilla Press: Allegan Forest, Michigan, 2002, p. 213
  9. ^ Nimura Dance Award 30th Anniversary and Mia Atsugi - Danza Ballet
  10. ^ Doug Pullen, "Wayne Lamb: still hoofing after all these years," Arts & Entertainment, Kalamazoo Gazette, August 11, 1985. This article names the musical as 'Yours is My Heart Alone.'
  11. ^ Stockdale, Joe. Man in the Spangled Pants: Jack Ragotzy and the First Fifty years of the Barn Theatre.. Priscilla Press: Allegen Forest, MI, 2002, p.213.
  12. ^ Boomer Girls, Internet Broadway Database, http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=1583, accessed January 29, 2012.
  13. ^ Make Mine Manhattan at the Internet Broadway Database
  14. ^ a b c Stockdale, Joe. Man in the Spangled Pants: Jack Ragotzy and the First Fifty years of the Barn Theatre.. Priscilla Press: Allegen Forest, MI, 2002, p.213
  15. ^ "Wayne Lamb: still hoofing after all these years," Arts & Entertainment, Kalamazoo Gazette, August 11, 1985.
  16. ^ "Wayne Lamb: still hoofing after all these years," Arts and Entertainment, Kalamazoo Gazette, August 11, 1985.
  17. ^ a b http://www.cla.purdue.edu/vpa/theatre/upcoming%20news/
  18. ^ Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search
  19. ^ Valley Echoes 1949
  20. ^ Stop the Music - Full Acting Credits - NYTimes.com
  21. ^ a b c d Donald Stikeleather, personal communication, April 4, 2010
  22. ^ Holland, Michigan Evening Sentinel, June 8, 1971, http://www.newspaperarchive.com/SiteMap/FreePdfPreview.aspx?img=11117933, accessed January 23, 2012.
  23. ^ Donation Update, http://www.barntheatre.com/
  24. ^ a b c Purdue e-Archives : Board of Trustees minutes, 1987 Mar. 27
  25. ^ Production History, History, Home, VPA, http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/vpa/theatre/documents/Theatre_Production_History_1915-2012.pdf, accessed January 23, 2012.
  26. ^ Donald Stikeleather, Personal Account. W. Lafayette, IN, October 1, 2010.
  27. ^ Donald Stikeleather, personal account of festivities, W. Lafayette, IN, October 1, 2010.

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