amBroadway: Bob Avian of ‘A Chorus Line’ dies at 83, questions about theaters as vaccination sites swirl and more

Bob Avian headshot (Photo by Randy O’Rourke)
Bob Avian
Photo by Randy O’Rourke

Could theaters serve as vaccination sites?

Theater producers and artists are hopeful that performances can begin again as soon as the U.S. population at large is vaccinated. In the meanwhile, they have launched an effort to persuade governmental organizations to use vacant performance venues as mass vaccination sites and hire unionized theater professionals to set up and operate the sites. “While we have been effectively shuttered by the pandemic, we have vast resources that, if fully utilized, could provide invaluable mechanisms in our country’s vaccination distribution,” the Broadway League wrote in an open letter to the White House. In a separate letter, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) noted how its members “helped convert numerous facilities into field hospitals” back in April. 

Virtual event to mark 25th anniversary of ‘Rent’

This week marked the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of songwriter Jonathan Larson and the first public performance of “Rent,” which went on to become a groundbreaking international sensation and a major influence on “Hamilton.” In recognition, New York Theatre Workshop, the Off-Broadway venue where “Rent” debuted before it transferred to Broadway, will produce the virtual celebration/concert “25 Years of Rent”: Measured in Love,” which will serve as the theater’s 2021 fundraising gala and be made available for on-demand streaming from March 2 to 6. It will include performances by original cast members Idina Menzel, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp and Wilson Jermaine Heredia. They will be joined by others including Ben Platt, Ali Stroker and Christopher Jackson. 

Hillary Clinton advocates for the costume industry

Hillary Clinton has come out in support of New York City’s custom costume industry, which creates costumes for theater, opera, film, television, concerts and other forms of live entertainment and employed over 500 artisans prior to the shutdown. “I’m talking about the dressmakers, tailors, milliners, patternmakers, stitchers, handbeaders, painters, sculptors and more. The many talented people who create and supply the costumes for the entire entertainment industry,” Clinton said in a YouTube video made on behalf of the Costume Industry Coalition, an advocacy group created in June. 

Bob Avian of ‘A Chorus Line’ dies at 83

Tony-winning choreographer Bob Avian, who co-choreographed the legendary original Broadway production of “A Chorus Line” and directed its 2006 Broadway revival, died at age 83 last week in Florida as a result of cardiac arrest. Avian’s enjoyable autobiography, “Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey,” which was published last March, recounts his experiences working not only on “A Chorus Line” but also “Dreamgirls,” “Miss Saigon,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Ballroom,” “Follies” and “Company.”

This week’s streaming recommendations…

“Days to Come” (Mint Theater Company’s production of little-known Lillian Hellman drama about a labor strike during the Depression), through Feb. 21, minttheater.org…“Looking Back at The Light in the Piazza” (Lincoln Center Theater revisits Adam Guettel’s 2005 musical with original cast members Victoria Clark, Matthew Morrison and Kelli O’Hara), Thurs at 7 p.m., lct.org…“Broadway Alive” (concert starring the waitstaff at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Times Square), Sat. at 9 p.m., BroadwayOnDemand.com.