Bebe Neuwirth, presenting Ann Reinking to the Theater Hall of Fame, Nov. 18, 2019
Thank you, Theater Hall of Fame, for making the brilliant decision to induct Ms. Ann Reinking. It is my great honor and joy to say a few words about my dear and treasured friend — one of the most deeply intelligent, kind, and sensitive people I know.
Annie’s astounding creativity, artistry, voice, and her particular divine madness are what have thrilled, inspired, and riveted audiences from the first moment she oozed on to the stage. She oozed, slithered, exploded, wiggled, and vaulted like a wondrous creature from our dreams. Her strength, virtuosity, and stillness take our breath away. Her endless legs are like arrows, her feet like daggers, her arms are silk flowing on a zephyr of a summer’s day, and her eyes — should she catch your gaze — will sear directly into your soul. Every moment she plays on a stage tells the absolute truth.
This is what makes her one of our finest actors. As defined by Sanford Meisner acting is “living truthfully moment to moment under imaginary circumstances” — and so whether she’s singing, dancing, talking or listening, Annie is expressing the utter truth. Her particularly profound sense of truth and the deep wisdom of her heart make her a performer from whom we dare not look away, she’s that riveting, and that thrillingly dangerous.
Her technical prowess, as a dancer and as a choreographer, is formidable, but what sets her apart from other great technicians is the unquantifiable, and I daresay Mystical force within her that infuses her artistry and creates the glorious experience that is Ann Reinking. Annie is a breath-taking, deep-risk-taking, stunning performer and she’s been able to do a remarkable thing with that talent. She has taken it and combined it with her gifts of wisdom and hyper-sensitivity to become a beautiful choreographer. She’s had many brilliant influences — George Balanchine, Katherine Dunham, Martha Graham, Bob Fosse, Jack Cole — but her choreographic voice is uniquely her own. In the tradition of all great artists, she respects and has studied the greats who came before her, and then buoyed by the strength of her study, found her own true authentic voice. I’ve had the blessing of dancing her choreography to the music of Kander & Ebb as well as Kurt Weill, so I can tell you first-hand how glorious and profound it is to dance Annie’s truth.
As a performer, a choreographer, and a director, Ann Reinking’s name belongs in this Theater Hall of Fame. Her work is truthful, it is authentic, it is unique, and it is thrilling. Annie came to the theater and through her dance, lifted audiences and raised our collective human spirit.
Courtesy of Bebe Neuwirth.