Broadway Dancer Robert Evans
Tour of Irving Berlin’s Louisiana Purchase in 1941.
14 Broadway musicals:
Including a 10-year stretch of work dancing in four legendary shows—Guys and Dolls (1951), The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees (1955) and The Music Man (1957).
Dancing for legends:
Worked with choreographers Jack Cole, Michael Kidd, Bob Fosse and Onna White, among others.
On working with choreographer Jack Cole:
“Jack really inspired me. He demanded so much of you and your dancing had to be good. I was pleased to have been in two shows that he did.”
Guys and Dolls, “Because it was difficult dancing and very showy for men. Like the ‘craps game’—it was eight minutes without stopping. It took a great deal of energy!”
On Music Man author Meredith Willson:
“On the first day of rehearsal, he and his wife sang and recited and danced the whole show for us from memory, and that gave us an idea of what we were going into. We knew it was ‘socko’ even though we hadn’t spent one day rehearsing!”
On original cast member Barbara Cook:
“She had a fabulous voice, as you know. Just a brilliant singer.”
Dancing with Shirley:
He was Shirley MacLaine’s dance partner in the chorus of The Pajama Game —“it was her second show…she was a nice girl.”
On his stint in Burlesque:
Robert toured for two months as a dancer for burlesque queen Sally Rand. During his interview to sign the contract, “she was standing behind her desk and bare breasted. She did that either to train me or upset me…!”
Advice for young dancers: “If you really want to dance, do it, rather than ruin your life doing something you don’t like… It’s a risky business. If you don’t have the guts, don’t do it. But if you desire to be in show business, you do it. And I did it!”
Robert is part of a very special community of unique individuals who reside at The Actors Fund's Lillian Booth Actors Home. The Home is the jewel in The Fund’s housing crown and a recipient of U.S. News and World Report’s coveted “Best Nursing Homes in America” award, bestowed on the best 2,700 of the 17,000 facilities nationwide. Our 124 residents represent a diverse cross-selection of the entertainment industry—from stagehands to writers to producers and, of course, dancers and actors, too. Nearly every entertainment union is represented under one roof in Englewood, New Jersey.
This interview originally appeared in Marquee, the official newsletter of The Actors Fund. Join The Fund today! Not only will you receive your own copy of Marquee twice yearly plus all the benefits of membership, you'll also play an important role in helping everyone in our creative community in times of need, crisis or transition and continue The Actors Fund tradition of caring for our own in entertainment.
Top photo: Joann Coates