Director and choreographer Bob Avian has died at 83. Beginning his career as a dance, he performed in the original Broadway casts of West Side Story, Funny Girl and Henry, Sweet Henry.
The award-winning choreographer met Michael Bennett co-starring in Nowhere To Go But Up in 1962 and the pair formed a decades long partnership. They worked together on multiple productions including Tony Award-winning productions of A Chorus Line and Ballroom.
Bob Avian won an Olivier Award in 1997 for his choreography work for Martin Guerre, and also worked on the West End productions of Follies, The Witches Of Eastwick and Sunset Boulevard.
In 1998, Bob Avian staged Hey, Mr Producer! at the Lyceum Theatre – a concert honouring producer Cameron Mackintosh as a benefit for the Royal National Institute of the Blind and the Combined Theatrical Charities, attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Cameron Mackintosh said of the news:
“The loss of Bob Avian is heart-breaking news. With the blessing of the brilliant Michael Bennett, I got lucky enough to share Bob’s extraordinary talents over six amazing shows. He was far more than a phenomenal choreographer of legendary musicals, he was also a brilliant producer, instinctively perceptive and collaborative and shrewdly honest in his opinions but always kind.
“Above all, for someone so talented, he remained remarkably modest about his own achievements on so many landmark musicals. He facilitated the genius of Michael Bennett and with every little step he took taught me more about the art of staging a modern musical than virtually anyone else I’ve met. It was a privilege to have been his friend and colleague for over 35 years. Bob was and always will be a singular sensation. The musical theatre has lost one of the Greats.”