Obituaries

Director and Choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne Passes Away at 92

It has been announced today via her official Twitter that trailblazing dancer, director, and choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne has passed away.

According to the tweet, she passed away tonight, July 1, at 6:20pm at the Princess Grace Hospital.

Dame Gillian Lynne has made an unprecedented contribution to the arts world; from classical ballet to featured dance performance in theatre, film and television. Over the course of her career, Gillian has directed more than sixty productions in the West End and Broadway as well as working on eleven feature films and hundreds of television productions as producer, director, choreographer or performer.

She recently was honored with a theatre dedicated to her namesake. As BroadwayWorld reported, the New London Theatre in the West End was renamed the Gillian Lynne Theatre on June 22, 2018. It was the first West End theatre to be named after a woman.

Director and Choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne Passes Away at 92
Dame Gillian Lynne with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh
Photo Credit: Craig Sugden

Gillian was a leading soloist with Sadler's Wells Ballet, the star dancer at the Palladium, played opposite Errol Flynn in the movies and danced with all the greats on TV. She became instrumental in the development of jazz dance in Britain and her distinctive style - a fusion of classical and jazz - led to her groundbreaking work on the world-famous Cats, which was recognised with a new category of Olivier Award, specially created for her to acknowledge Outstanding Achievement of the Year in a Musical. Cats continues to be produced worldwide Gillian's 50-plus Broadway and West End shows include: Tonight at 8.30, Love on the Dole, The Match Girls, TomFoolery, Jeeves Takes Charge, Cabaret, The Roar of the Greasepaint, Pickwick, The Card, Phil The Fluter, Hans Christian Andersen, My Fair Lady, Songbook, The Phantom of the Opera and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

For the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Comedy of Errors, The Way of the World, As You Like It, Once in a Lifetime and The Boy Friend. She has previously worked with Adrian Noble on the RSC production The Secret Garden.

Gillian's opera productions include the direction of Bluebeard, The Trojans, The Midsummer Marriage, The Flying Dutchman and Parsifal. Among Gillian's ballets are Breakaway, Lippizaner, The Brontes and Journey for the Bolshoi.

On television, Gillian has directed The Various Ends of Mrs F's Friends, Easy Money, The Look of Love, The Morte d'Arthur, which won the Samuel G Engel Award in America, and A Simple Man, which won a 1987 BAFTA.

She staged many of The Muppet Shows for ATV and her 11 feature films include A Wonderful Life, Half a Sixpence, Man of La Mancha and Yentl. Gillian's most recent productions include the staging of a special gala in New York to celebrate The Phantom of the Opera overtaking Cats as the longest-running show on Broadway and Phantom - the Las Vegas Spectacular.

She has received numerous accolades including two Olivier Awards for Cats in 1981, the Austrian Silver Order of Merit for her production of Cats in Vienna, a Moliere award for Cats in Paris, and in 2001 she was honoured by the Royal Academy of Dance with the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award.

Gillian received a Lifetime Achievement "Special" Olivier in 2013. She was honoured with a CBE in 1997 and made a Dame in 2014 for her services to Dance and Musical Theatre - the first woman to be honoured in this way.

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