Broadway Features and Reviews
Cry-Baby's Dance Daddy: Rob Ashford
By Leora Kanner, Broadway Magazine
Rob Ashford, the man who choreographed the newest Broadway hit 'Cry-Baby,' is a Tony-Award winning choreographer with a number of shows under his belt and an extensive career spanning almost twenty years. His credits include revivals such as Kiss Me Kate and original shows like Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Wedding Singer, and more recently Curtains.
Ashford was born in Florida and raised in West Virginia. Interestingly enough, he originally studied law in Washington and Lee University but his interest in dance was sparked through his participation with a Theatre group in West Virginia. This outdoor group inspired Ashford to switch to Point Park University and study ballet, jazz, modern, and character dance.
When Ashford moved to New York after graduation he had his Broadway debut as a dancer in Lincoln Center's revival of Anything Goes. Other dancing opportunities quickly followed, but Ashford got his chance at choreography when his then roommate, Kathleen Marshall's brother, needed a substitute for a staging of Kiss of the Spider Woman in Beunos Aires and Ashford was invited to go. When he returned, Ashford teamed up as choreographer with his friend Marshall for a revival of Kiss Me, Kate, which led to Thoroughly Modern Millie, a Tony, and a Drama Desk Award nomination. He has subsequently been nominated for several awards on other shows including two more Tonys and has choreographed in London and for film.
Ashford debuted as a director with Jason Robert Brown's "Parade" at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Michael Grandage who owns the Donmar was confident in Ashford's ability as director; he said the choice was a no-brainer, "Having worked with Rob on the two musicals, I realized that he was a director - a creative person, not just someone who did steps. It wasn't a difficult choice for me to make."
Praise for Ashford's choreography is echoed in review of his recent work on Cry-Baby. One notable and awing scene in the show involves jailed men tap dancing with license plates attached to their feet. David Finkle for Theatremania said that Ashford brought the dancing in Cry-Baby to a "wowee level," and allows the creative team to completely rely on the choreography to carry the show. In Gold's article about Ashford for 'Dance Magazine," Ashford's choreography, especially in the jail scene (which ends in a back handspring,) is strenuous and "not for the timid." Ashford told Gold, "You're about to see these guys work really hard." Clearly though, Ashford's hard work has paid off.
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