Donald Saddler: A Man Who Lived for the Dance

Donald Saddler died 10 days ago at the age of 94. For some inexplicable reason the lights were not dimmed in his honor. (I asked the Broadway League yesterday to confirm that they would not be, and I received a response stating they would "keep [me] posted.")

So let me pay a little tribute to him here. A mentee of Jerome Robbins, Saddler won two Tony Awards for Best Choreography, one for Wonderful Town in 1953 and one for No, No, Nanette in 1971. He was nominated for two others as well. His Broadway career spanned five decades. He started as a dancer, moved onto choreographer and then returned to the stage in 2001. I think even haters of the Roundabout's 2001 staging of Follies (and there are many) will admit that seeing Saddler and Marge Champion dance together was something special. I remember speaking to him backstage at that show about why he wanted to return to performing onstage at his, umm, late age. He said he loved it. It was all about the dance to him. In his heart, he was still that hoofer he had been so many years before.

I wasn't against dimming the lights for Geoffrey Holder, but I'm not sure what makes him more worthy of the honor than Saddler. He had the same amount of Tony Awards and a much less extensive career. He was more famous of course, and I suppose the argument could be made The Wiz still has an impact on theater today. However I truly think we should be honoring those who gave their life to the stage and made an impression. Saddler was one of those people.

Even if the lights don't dim for him, hopefully the community remembers him.