Stroman created routines, and she and her friend spent the rest of the summer panhandling on Fisherman's Wharf. "We would make 80 dollars an hour," she says. "Then someone from the Johnny Carson show saw us and flew us down for the segment [in which] Johnny would ask who has talent in the audience and there would be people who'd do bird calls and things. So he called on us, and Doc Severinsen struck up 'Little Brown Jug' while we tap-danced on the stairs in the aisle. And we won a steak dinner."
After college, Stroman moved to New York intent on becoming a director and choreographer, but continued to hoof it onstage. One of her first jobs was performing in the touring company of the original Bob Fosse production of Chicago. Her big break as a choreographer came over a decade later, when she co-created the Off-Broadway Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes 'Round, beginning a relationship with the legendary songwriting team that would continue up to the artistic triumph of The Scottsboro Boys.
Her first foray directing on Broadway came with her imaginative re-telling of The Music Man, which concerned the kind of man Stroman knew best — the salesman who could sell anything to anyone. "[My father] would always say: 'You can rule the world with a bottle of Listerine and a thesaurus,'" Stroman recalled. So when Big Fish came her way, "I knew exactly what kind of man this show would swirl around."
Charles Stroman remained healthy to the day he died in 2003 at the age of 86, having lived long enough to see that production of The Music Man and his daughter's triumph with another tribute to loveable hucksters, The Producers. "When he introduced to me, at a very young age, his passion for music, he never expected it to take the journey it did.
"He would have recognized himself in Big Fish," Stroman added, "and he would have loved it."
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