If so, you have seen, and most likely enjoyed, Dame Gillian Lynne’s choreography; and you will understand the very real grief with which theatreland, both London’s West End and Broadway (and beyond), received the news of her death on 1 July 2018, aged 92.
You will also understand – and perhaps approve of – the decision to hold a special gala in the theatre renamed after her, the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Drury Lane (formerly New London Theatre), to celebrate her life and launch the Lynne and Land Foundation, set up by Lynne and her husband Peter Land to provide scholarships and grants to young theatre hopefuls.
The gala will bring together stars from the world of musical theatre and dance, on which Dame Gillian left such an indelible mark.
Her stage career started in ballet: as a young member of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet she danced some of the company’s main roles after the end of WWII. She did, however, swap Covent Garden for musical theatre, where her talent was soon recognised and put to glorious use.
It was as a choreographer and director that Gillian Lynne carved a unique niche for herself. Her range was wide: she choreographed for the Royal Ballet, the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Opera with as much flair and fluency as she did for musical theatre.
Hers are the steps in two of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, Cats and Phantom of the Opera.
Cameron MacKintosh, Dame Gillian Lynne, Andrew Lloyd Webber at Phantom of the Opera
Gillian Lynne directed over 60 productions in the West End and Broadway; worked on 11 feature films and hundreds of television productions as a choreographer, director and performer.
Her awards are too numerous to list: they include two Oliviers and a BAFTA, as well as some of the highest international honours; and, of course, the DBE in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.
Among the stars billed to perform at To Gillie With Love are Beverley Knight (star of The Bodyguard and Memphis the Musical and a recent iteration of Cats), ballerina and English National Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo, ballet maverick Sergei Polunin, and Sir Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company, probably with a snatch of its greatest hit, the all-male Swan Lake, or maybe – who knows? – a sneak preview of Bourne's new work, Romeo and Juliet.
Christopher Biggins is sure to bring some jollity and not a little campness to the proceedings; very many other big names of musical theatre will join a celebration of Dame Gillian Lynne’s life and the help, guidance and inspiration she provided to so many of today’s musical performers.
All proceeds will go to the Lynne and Land Foundation.
|What||To Gillie with Love Gala Evening|
|Where||The Gillian Lynne Theatre, 166 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
On 02 Jul 19, 19:30 Dur TBC
|Website||Click here to book via the Gillian Lynne Theatre|