Chet Walker, a Tony nominated choreographer who was considered one of the leading interpreters of choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style, passed away October 21 from a glioblastoma tumor. He was 68.
Mr. Walker made his Broadway debut at 16 in the 1971 revival of On The Town before entering the Fosse firmament as a replacement dancer in Pippin. From that point forward, he was a Fosse man, with only two credits outside of the legendary choreographer's signature style, the short lived musical Ambassador, and Lorelai (subtitled Gentlemen Still Prefer Blondes) alongside Carol Channing. With Fosse, he danced in The Pajama Game, Dancin', and the 1986 revival of Sweet Charity, the choreographer's final production before his death.
A little over 10 years later, Mr. Walker would breathe new life into the Fosse legacy by conceiving and choreographing Fosse, a dance revue of the late choreographer's work that revitalized the material for a new generation, cementing the style as one of the enduring icons of the American musical. The revue was nominated for seven Tony awards, winning three, including Best Musical, making it the final Best Musical winner of the 20th century.
In 2013, Mr. Walker returned to Broadway once more to choreograph the Tony winning Broadway revival of Pippin, for which he won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Astaire Awards, in addition to receiving a Tony nomination of his own.
Mr. Walker's original, non-Fosse derived works were performed by Cirque du Soleil, Compania Internacional de Teatro Musical (the international jazz-musical theatre dance company for which Mr. Walker served as co-artistic director in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and Jacob’s Pillow (where Mr. Walker served as director of the musical theatre program).
Mr. Walker choreographed the tours of Sweet Charity (recreating the original Fosse choreography) in the United States, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Norway and London’s West End; the 10th anniversary tour of La Cage Aux Folles; Dory!; and A Musical Portrait. On television, Mr. Walker's work could be seen on the NBC special Loretta Lynne Country in The Big Apple, The Rosie O’Donnell Show and on Japan’s CTV Just Dance.
At the time of his death, Mr. Walker was working on two new musicals: Feelin’ in the Mood, The Glenn Miller Musical written by Shaun McKenna, with orchestrations by Larry Blank, and produced by Kim Poster; and Jack Cole, The Musical (also with Shaun McKenna).
Mr. Walker is survived by his husband Jack, daughter Charlie, two sisters, Barbara and Marcia, brother Clayton (Carina), and sister-in-law Angel. A public memorial will be held at a later date.