Thursday, December 5, 2013

Choreographer Marc Breaux R.I.P.

Marc Breaux, who choreographed Mary Poppins (1964), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976), and several Broadway shows, died 19 November 2013 at the age of 89.

Marc Breaux was born on 3 November 1924 in Carencro, Louisiana. He studied dance at the Southwestern Louisiana Institute of Liberal and Technical Learning (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). During World War II he served as pilot in the United States Navy. After the war he was a pre-med student, but abandoned his studies after he went to a dance class with a friend that was taught by legendary choreographers Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman.

Mr. Breaux made his debut on Broadway in 1948 as a dancer in Kiss Me Kate. In 1950 he appeared as a dancer in the Broadway show The Barrier. In 1955 he had his big break, with significant roles in the Broadway revue Catch a Star. In 1955 he also made his television debut as the Walrus in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation Alice in Wonderland. In 1956 he appeared in the Broadway production Li'l Abner and the film Design for Dreaming. In 1960 he appeared in a Broadway musical version of Destry Rides Again It was that year he did his first credited work as a choreographer, on the Broadway revue Do Re Mi.

The Sixties saw Marc Breaux move into television and film. In 1961 he served as the choreographer on The United States Steel Hour episode "Private Eye, Private Eye".  In television he would serve as the choreographer for such shows as The Andy Williams Show, The King Family Show, and The Hollywood Palace. He also choreographed the television specials Judy and Her Guests, Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet, Of Thee I Sing, and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. Of course, Mr. Breaux would be best known for his work as a choreographer on films. He worked on the films Mary Poppins (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), The Happiest Millionaire (1967), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), Huckleberry Finn (1974), The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976), and Sextette (1978).  On Broadway he served as a choreographer on Subways Are for Sleeping (1961),  Minnie's Boys (1970), and Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (1970).

Like Michael Kidd, Marc Breaux was notable for dance routines that required a good deal of athleticism. This can be seen in the chimney sweep sequence of Mary Poppins as well as the "Me Ol' Bamboo" of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. At the same time, both in his work on television and such films as The Sound of Music, Mr. Breaux was notable for creating sequences with non-dancers so that they actually looked good. Working with his wife at the time, choreographer Dee Dee Wood, Marc Breaux would create some of the most memorable dance sequences on film.

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