Kiss Me, Kate Tony Award Nominee Warren Carlyle Shares Five Musical Numbers That Inspire & Influence Him as a Choreographer
June 4th, 2019
by Josh Ferri
Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and is up for a 2019 Tony Award, for his stunning choreography of Roundabout Theatre Company's Tony-nominated Kiss Me, Kate revival. He created jaw-dropping showstoppers out of "Tom, Dick, or Harry" and "Bianca" but his pièce de résistance is the sexy and athletic Act II opener "Too Darn Hot".
BroadwayBox caught up with Warren (who returns to Broadway in September 2020 choreographing the Hugh Jackman revival of The Music Man) to hear about five dance numbers that truly shaped and inspired him as a dancer and choreographer.
“The Prologue”, West Side Story
I’ve got to start with West Side Story. I think the prologue in West Side Story is really beautiful. I just really, really, really love it. I grew up in a village that didn't have a theatre, so most of my early influences actually were from movie-musicals on film. I think the use of dance as language in West Side is really wonderful. That would be number one on my list.
“Baby June and Her Newsboys", Gypsy
I love the transition where the kids go from young to old in the Broadway show Gypsy. It’s that great thing where it’s really simple. Basically, it’s trenches and the light strobe but, for me, that transition is what Broadway is about. It is a beautiful and breathtaking transition. (And now that’s two Jerome Robbins.)
“The Small House of Uncle Thomas”, The King and I
I also love—and I can't believe it’s really now three Jerome Robbins numbers—the ballet from The King and I. I really, really love it. In 1998, I was interviewing to be an assistant on Fosse and Ann Reinking asked me a similar question, "What's your favorite piece of choreography?” And that is what I said, and I booked the job. I think again, what I love is the simplicity: she stands on one leg and she hops all the way through that ballet. It’s extraordinary the pieces that come and go—the branches that come and go and the silk that comes and goes. It’s really breathtaking and wildly theatrical.
“I Got Rhythm”, Crazy For You
I love, love the number at the end of Act 1 of Crazy to You. I just love Stroman, and, obviously, she and I have been connected for years and years and years. But “I Got Rhythm” is a really good recent one that I could point at and just say, "My god, that is an incredible musical number." The way it builds, the use of props, and the use of the staging of the song that goes into the extended dance break. I really just think that is, to me, what Broadway is about. It’s really up there for me.
“Touch Me”, Spring Awakening
The fifth one is a little weird and wacky, and I just love that. I could never do that in a million years, but Bill T. Jones’ Spring Awakening was pretty great. That was dance on Broadway that I really admired and the kind of dance on Broadway that I could never execute in my wildest dreams. I could never dream that.
Hurry to Studio 54 to see this revival of 'Kiss Me, Kate' before its final performance on June 30.