Thommie Walsh

Thommie Walsh
Born Thomas Joseph Walsh III
(1950-03-15)March 15, 1950
Auburn, New York, USA
Died June 16, 2007(2007-06-16) (aged 57)
Auburn, New York, USA
Occupation Choreographer, Dancer, Director, Author

Thomas Joseph “Thommie” Walsh III (March 15, 1950 – June 16, 2007) was an American Dancer, Choreographer, Director, and Author.


Thommie Walsh was born in Auburn, New York, and began to study dancing at age five at the Irma Baker School of Dance. After high school, he attended the Boston Conservatory of Music from 1972–74, but left during his junior year to tour with Disney on Parade.[1]

He joined the national tour of Applause,[1] starring Lauren Bacall, and the company of The Ann-Margaret Las Vegas Show. He was in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar as the apostle Thaddeus. Walsh made his Broadway debut in the chorus of Seesaw in 1973.[2] Also in 1973 he appeared in the flop Rachael Lily Rosenbloom (And Don't You Ever Forget It), which starred Ellen Greene and Anita Morris, and did not officially open on Broadway after 7 previews.[3]

A Chorus Line

In 1975 Walsh was invited by choreographer Tony Stevens to participate in a series of frank conversations among Broadway dancers, known as "gypsies," about their experiences, hopes, and dreams. The result was Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line (1976), in which he originated the role of Bobby. The role of Bobby was in large part based on his life [4] and also used material from a comedy stand-up routine he used at the time. (Samples: "I thought about killing myself, but then I realized to commit suicide in Buffalo is redundant." and "I used to break into people's houses. I didn't steal anything; I'd just rearrange their furniture.") He co-wrote a book with Baayork Lee, another Chorus Line cast member, about the musical's origins and evolution, entitled On the Line, which was published by William Morrow in 1990.[5][6]

Choreography and direction

Walsh soon left his dancing career to concentrate on choreography, musical staging, and direction. His credits include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1978 and 1982) with Chorus cast member Pam Blair, The 1940's Radio Hour (1979), A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (1980), with Chorus cast member Priscilla Lopez, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (1982), Nine (1982), My One and Only (1983) with Chorus cast member Ron Dennis,[7] Marilyn: An American Fable (1983),[8] and My Favorite Year (1992).[9]

He received the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his choreography in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine and My One and Only which also earned him a Tony nomination for best direction.[7]

He went on to direct Lucky Stiff Off-Broadway in 1988[10] the musical Always in 1997 (West End debut),[11] and A Broadway Baby at Goodspeed Opera House in 1984.[12]

With such a developed reputation in the industry, Walsh was brought in as a show doctor on many of Broadway's shows during the 1980s, such as The Grand Tour, Black and Blue, The Tap Dance Kid; he also choreographed many numbers in Grand Hotel.

Walsh has also directed and staged musical numbers for Chita Rivera, Sandy Duncan, Mitzi Gaynor, Donna McKechnie, Whoopi Goldberg, Lorna Luft, Priscilla Lopez, Joel Grey, Barbara Cook, and Julie Budd.[13]

Walsh also directed and choreographed many commercials such as the NY Lottery, Perdue Chicken, Crush, and MCI. Walsh's last direction and choreography before his death was the national tour of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Ann-Margret and Gary Sandy.[14]

At the time of his death, he was working on a musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities as choreographer, for a Broadway opening.[15][16] Much of his work was done in collaboration with Tommy Tune, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.[5]

He also was a judge for Miss America, Danny Hoctor's Dance Caravan and Stars of Tomorrow in conjunction with the Professional Dance Teachers Association.

Personal life

Walsh was known for his unique sense of style (Example: Checkered Vans with a Pinstriped Suit), as well as his incomparable and well known sense of humor.

Thommie Walsh died on June 16, 2007 at his Auburn, New York home from lymphoma at age 57.[5][13]

Awards and nominations




  1. 1 2 Barran, Kathleen. "School to honor Auburn's Walsh", May 12, 2008
  2. Seesaw, accessed June 26, 2016
  3. Rachael Lily Rosenbloom, accessed June 26, 2016
  4. Stewart, John. " "A Chorus Line' ", Broadway Musicals, 1943-2004, McFarland, 2006, ISBN 1476603294, (no page number)
  5. 1 2 3 Gans, Andrew. "Thommie Walsh, Tony-Winning Choreographer, Dead at 57" Playbill, June 17, 2007
  6. Gerard, Jeremy. "Take It From the Top. On the Line " The New York Times, April 22, 1990
  7. 1 2 "Thommie Walsh Broadway" Playbill, accessed June 26, 2016
  8. Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Marilyn,' Musical About Monroe's Magic" The New York Times, November 21, 1983
  9. My Favorite Year, accessed June 26, 2016
  10. Lucky Stiff, accessed June 26, 2016
  11. Wolf, Matt. "Review: 'Always' " Variety, June 22, 1997
  12. Charles, Eleanor. "Connecticut Guide" The New York Times, December 16, 1984
  13. 1 2 Charles Isherwood (2007-06-19). "Thommie Walsh, Dancer and Tony Winner, Dies at 57". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  14. "Thommie Walsh/Bio". Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  15. Jones, Kenneth. "Designers, Choreographer and Target Dates Announced for Musical 'Tale of Two Cities'" Playbill, December 16, 2005
  16. " 'A Tale of Two Cities' to Debut at Sarasota's Asolo Theatre in October", March 5, 2007
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