Jazz Hands and Knee Slides: Jack Cole Project Will Premiere in NYC in 2012

By Kenneth Jones
22 Nov 2011

Chet Walker
Chet Walker

The Jack Cole Project, a new musical entertainment about the father of theatrical jazz dance, is being developed and will be presented in 2012 at Queens Theatre in the Park. The work is created by director-choreographer Chet Walker.

The show — expected to display Cole's signature knee slides, struts and slinky sexuality — will open May 3, 2012, at Queens Theatre, located in Flushing Meadow Corona Park.

For the musical tribute, Queens Theatre has partnered with WALKERDANCE founder Chet Walker who is spearheading this new project. Cole's choreography was seen in Broadway and movie musicals, nightclub acts and television variety shows. He is best known for his work with Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and Ann Miller on such films as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Gilda," "Some Like It Hot," "No Business Like Show Business" and "Les Girls" and on stage in Kismet, Man of La Mancha and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

He influenced a new generation of dancers and choreographers, including Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.



The Jack Cole Project "will recreate works in the style of Jack Cole as well as create new works based on Cole's Hollywood, Broadway, and nightclub periods." Casting will be announced.

Ray Cullom, executive director of Queens Theatre, said in a statement, "As a new center for development of new and innovative performance work, this is at the heart what we do at the theatre, and to have found such a generous, willing and renowned collaborator as Chet is overwhelming. It is sure to be an exciting production that we hope might have a future life in the city — perhaps even on Broadway."

Walker is a protégé of Bob Fosse and began performing on Broadway at the age of 16 in the first revival of On the Town. He went on to work with Fosse on The Pajama Game, Pippin, Dancin' and Sweet Charity. His company, WALKERDANCE recently became the first resident dance company in the history of the Queens Theatre.