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Obituary: Lorelei Lynn – ‘a flexible style that deftly integrated dance into theatre’

Choreographer Lorelei Lynn Choreographer Lorelei Lynn

Although Lorelei Lynn never achieved the celebrity of some of her choreographer peers, her long and varied career was notable for a flexibility and vitality of style that deftly integrated dance into theatre. Her ability to transform the confidence and capability of actors for whom dancing didn’t come naturally became a central claim to attention, as did her commitment to regional theatre.

Showing an early interest in dance, she trained with Pauline Miller in her hometown of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, before further studies at the Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts.

Her early professional credits included appearances with the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, and the East Anglia Dance Company. In the late 1970s she struck up the first of several long-term relationships with regional companies at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, injecting robustly imaginative choreography into the 1978 rock musicals Squeak and Tommy (later appearing in its 1996 West End run at the Shaftesbury Theatre).

The following year, she provided Jonathan Cross and Sue Dunderdale’s The Charlie Chaplin Story with an adroitly realised sense of period authenticity. Her contribution to Paul Tomlinson’s 1984 revival of Cabaret at the same venue was memorable for its suggestive, risque physicality.

Notable shows at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre included Sid Waddell’s football comedy Jossy’s Giants (1987), David Horlock’s adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd (1989) and the world premiere of Tom Elliott’s Feed, starring Roy Barraclough as a retired entertainer reminiscing about his life as a straight man to end-of-the-pier comics.

For Henry Living’s Lancastrian transposition of Lorca’s Blood Wedding in 1994 she provided, The Stage noted, “wonderful clog dancing used to great dramatic effect”. Clogs also featured in her 1995 staging of Tony Harrison’s The Nativity in Bolton.

She served as movement director for Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean tragedy Women Beware Women and John Vanbrugh’s Restoration comedy The Relapse at Birmingham Rep in 1989 and 1990.

By then, she had begun what was to be her longest-lasting association, with director Ian Forrest at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.

She was involved in more than 30 productions at the Cumbrian venue, including The Wizard of Oz, JB Priestley’s The Good Companions and Howard Goodall’s musical The Hired Man.

More recently, she brought convincing ballroom brio and glamour to Keswick in Peta Murray’s Wallflowering, a portrait of the life and loves of two misfit, middle-aged dancers, in 2003. Her choreography for the Gateway Chester’s 101 Dalmatians the following year, in which children played the titular puppies, was among her most joyous and charming.

There were few regional theatres she didn’t work with, the long listing including Ipswich’s Wolsey Theatre, Derby Playhouse, Cheltenham Everyman, Exeter’s Northcott Theatre and the Theatre Royal, York, where she choreographed the York Cycle of Mystery Plays, with Robson Green leading a 100-strong community cast, in 1992.

She devised, wrote and directed several shows based on the British musical and the work of Kander and Ebb and George Gershwin for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Lorelei Lynn was born on June 24, 1948 and died on June 27, three days after her 70th birthday.

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