Friday, December 18, 2020

Annie and Margaret Dance Their Way into Our Hearts

That's Ann Reinking with bowler hat & legs

 The sudden death of dancer/actress Ann Reinking at age 73 has sent shockwaves through the theatre community. Reinking had her share of film and TV roles, but it was on the Broadway stage that she really made her mark. Reinking will always be associated with Bob Fosse, who directed her in shows like Chicago and made her his longtime leading lady in his private life. After his fatal heart attack in 1987, she became the keeper of his flame, re-choreographing (and starring in) Chicago in the Fosse style and heading a revue launched in his honor. On film, she added terpsichorean grace to the role of Grace Farrell in Annie, and essentially played a version of herself in Fosse’s largely autobiographical All That Jazz.

 But in 2019, when it came time to make a miniseries about the dynamics between Fosse and wife Gwen Verdon, Reinking was of course too old to play the girlfriend role. That’s when a young woman named Margaret Qualley entered the picture. Qualley, now 26, is the daughter of the actress Andie MacDowell, who delighted audiences in frothy movies like Green Card, Groundhog Day, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Qualley herself has had a few showy film roles, notably as the hippie chick who lures Brad Pitt into Manson territory in Tarantino’s 2019 re-writing of history, Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood.

 But Qualley started out as a dancer. She’s tall, shapely, and long-limbed, which made her an apt choice to portray the young Reinking in the era when she became Fosse’s #1 (but hardly one and only) love. It’s a role that earned her an Emmy nomination, to go with her Screen Actors Guild nomination as part of the ensemble cast of the Tarantino film.

 Qualley’s not short on upcoming projects, including another autobiographical role in My Salinger Year, about a young woman who (while answering J.D. Salinger’s fan mail) aspires to become a writer herself. (Sigourney Weaver plays her literary-agent boss). As of now she’s (somehow, in the age of Covid) filming a miniseries, while she has three more films in pre-production.

 Yet what really makes me love her is, of all things, a commercial. But not just any commercial. It was written and shot in 2016 by the ever-inventive Spike Jonze, for a perfume called Kenzo World. How do you tout a perfume without giving anyone a whiff of its fragrance? Well, Jonze and Qualley have found a way that’s original and very funny. Once seen, it’s not something you’ll soon forget.

 By the way, Qualley’s Kenzo World commercial was filmed in and around the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the grandest, most glittery hall in the original Los Angeles County Music Center, used for opera, ballet, and other major events. As an L.A. landmark that was completed in 1964, it has a long connection with movies: it’s been used for many an Oscar ceremony and the massive chandeliers in its lobby were created for The Great Waltz, a long-ago film about the life of Johann Strauss. The Dorothy Chandler (named after its lead fundraiser, the wife of the longtime publisher of the Los Angeles Times) somehow survived the making of the Kenzo World ad, and it’s still standing tall. At least I think it is – it was in fine shape last February, the last time in the pre-Covid era that I was lucky enough to leave my home for a trip to the  theatre.

 Anyway, here’s Qualley at her wacky best:


No comments:

Post a Comment