By Harry Haun
11 May 2012
"The next thing I want to do is to do another version of what I'm doing now. Jack Cole was at Columbia Pictures for four years, had 12 dancers on a sound stage working every day from nine to five to create. You've got to do that. You have to spend the time to train dancers in the technique of this man. This is a small beginning of what I see as a larger thing, but I also see everything that we do is an education."
"I love this experience," Elder confessed. "For me, certainly, it feels like a good fit. I get to do various things that utilize my different talents — Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, opera, ballet, the funny stuff. It's like a nice arc of a bunch of different styles for me."
|photo by Carol Rosegg|
This particular opening pulled some name players and industry folk, among them screen hoofer Eugene Louis Faccuito (a.k.a. "Luigi"), Malcolm Gets, Post scooper Michael Riedel and assorted hot-and-Cole-running dancers.
A Chorus Line Tony winner Donna McKechnie, who is touring her one-woman show, My Musical Comedy Life (Pittsfield's Colonial is the next pit-stop July 27), reached Broadway after Cole's heyday. "I always wanted to work with him," she lamented, "but I know so many people who worked with him. Gwen Verdon told me many stories about Jack when he was her guardian and she was just 18 years old and they were doing their nightclub act, and how hard he worked everybody, but he worked just as hard when he was dancing in his own shows.
"When I do my own show, wherever I am, I always mention Jack Cole's name. At a lot of universities where I play, the students haven't heard of him. He's not written up enough in our history, so I think it's my job. I love to say names of people I admire, and he's an important name because he is the father of Broadway dance. There are a lot of people who are our forebears, but Jack Cole is the one who really brought all the elements of different cultures to create contemporary modern dance."
Wicked/Godspell's Stephen Schwartz was another who was left out in the Cole and could only imagine what the choreographer could have done with his "Defying Gravity" Act One finale. "I don't have enough background information on him to appreciate some of it," he admitted, "but I found it very interesting, anyway."
Dancer-choreographer-teacher Jacques d'Amboise — or "Charlotte's dad," as he likes to identify himself — is of Cole vintage and called the performance "a tremendous evening, full of memories. A lot of those dances I saw. Jack, I knew and admired, but we never worked together. I just hung out with all the dancers that had bad knees, and they all said it was his fault."Continued...