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Ann Reinking, Tony winner and star of Broadway's 'Chicago,' dies at 71

“The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party."
Ann Reinking
Reinking in 1981.Jack Mitchell / Getty Images

Tony Award winner Ann Reinking, an actor, dancer and choreographer, died on Saturday night in Washington, her sister-in-law Dahrla King told Variety. She was 71.

“The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party,” her family said in a statement. “She was visiting our brother in Washington state when she went to sleep and never woke up. We will miss her more than we can say. Heaven has the best choreographer available now. I’m sure they are dancing up a storm up there! Annie, we will love and miss you always!!!”

News of the actor’s death was first announced Monday on Facebook by dancer and choreographer Christopher Dean, who teaches Reinking’s niece.

“The lights on Broadway are forever more dim this morning and there is one less star in the sky,” he wrote. “The good news is that heaven has the very best choreographer on earth now.”

The star got her acting start in a Seattle Opera House production of “Bye Bye Birdie” in 1965. She soon found her way onto the Broadway stage when she was cast in the ensemble for the 1969 production of “Cabaret.”

She is perhaps best known for playing the role of Roxie Hart in 1977’s “Chicago,” replacing Gwen Verdon. She reprised the part when she returned for the 1996 revival of the famed production.

“The hope is that in rediscovering ‘Chicago,’ audiences will rediscover what theater was,” Reinking told The New York Times at the time of the show’s revival. “It was sophisticated, complicated, adult.”

Reinking during the landmark performance of "Chicago" as it became the second longest show in Broadway history at the Ambassador Theatre on Nov. 23, 2014 in New York City.Walter McBride / Getty Images

Reinking’s other Broadway roles include “Sweet Charity,” “Over Here!” and “Goodtime Charley.”

The actor spent time choreographing for theater, as well. Her work on the latter “Chicago” ultimately earned her a Tony Award for best choreography.

Reinking also served as the co-creator, co-director and co-choreographer for “Fosse,” a musical meant to showcase choreography by Bob Fosse. She created the project alongside Richard Maltby Jr. and Chet Walker.

The musical also served as Reinking’s final bow on Broadway, as she served as a replacement ensemble member in the 2001.

She is survived by her husband, Peter Talbert, and her son Chris.

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