FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Bob Avian, a two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer, producer and director who was involved in some of Broadway’s biggest plays, died Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 83.
Avian died of cardiac arrest, his husband, Peter Pileski, said through a spokesperson.
In 1976, Avian earned his first Tony as co-choreographer of “A Chorus Line” and won his second three years later for co-choreographing “Ballroom,” a production he also directed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Avian also was a lead producer on the original and national companies of “Dreamgirls,” which won six Tony Awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Avian also was the choreographer of the Broadway hits “Miss Saigon” (1991) and “Sunset Boulevard” (1994), and also directed a 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line,” The New York Times reported. The revival ran on Broadway for nearly two years, the newspaper reported.
Avian’s six-decade career on stage began in 1960, when he was cast in an international tour of “West Side Story,” the Times reported.
“I loved the adventure of traveling around the world,” Avian wrote in the 2020 book, “Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey,” a memoir written with Tom Santopietro. “But the tour would prove even more momentous for one all-encompassing reason: During rehearsals in New York, I met a fellow castmate, Michael Bennett, a 17-year-old high school dropout marked for greatness.”
Avian would work next to Bennett, Cameron Mackintosh, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, according to The Associated Press.
Avian enjoyed a long professional partnership with Bennett. He worked as associate choreographer or assistant director on such Bennett as “A Chorus Line,” “Promises, Promises,” “Coco,” “Company,” “Follies, “Seesaw” and “God’s Favorite,” the AP reported.
“For someone so talented, he remained remarkably modest about his own achievements on so many landmark musicals,” Mackintosh said in a statement. “He facilitated the genius of Michael Bennett and with every little step he took taught me more about the art of staging a modern musical than virtually anyone else I’ve met. It was a privilege to have been his friend and colleague for over 35 years.”
Robert Avedisian was born on Dec. 26, 1937, in New York City, the Times reported. His parents were immigrants from Armenia, with his father a chef and his mother a seamstress, the newspaper reported. He shortened his name when he became a professional dancer.
Tony-winner Tony Yazbeck tweeted that Avian was “a sweet and kind spirit who generously gave his creative talents to legendary works.” Marvin Hamlisch said: “His legacy will live on stage for years to come.”
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