“Those dancers, those dancers, those dancers,” gushes choreographer Warren Carlyle. “The most meaningful part is being able to work with those dancers. That's really the thing that has moved me this season more than anything.”
And Carlyle has worked those dancers hard. His Tony-nominated choreography for the current revival of Kiss Me, Kate pushes his dancers—ensemble and leads alike—to the edges of their skill set.
Corbin Bleu tap dances down the stairs (and upside down on the ceiling) as Bill Calhoun, Stephanie Styles dangles from a ladder as Lois Lane, James T. Lane learned to tap for the show’s emblematic number “Too Darn Hot,” and there is also the subtler waltz in “Wunderbar” and the comic staging of “I Hate Men.” But don’t let the dance pyrotechnics fool you; from top to bottom, Carlyle’s movement tells the story in ways daring, chemical, and emotional.
The choreographer employs his full arsenal of dance styles and musicianship to craft the piece, but also a passion for theatre cultivated at a young age. His first childhood experience onstage was in the national tour of Oliver! across the pond. “I was Workhouse Boy #11 in England in the U.K. I worked for Cameron Mackintosh,” he says in the video above.
Carlyle made it through Playbill’s full lightning round of questions and shared the show that most impacted him, the musical theatre song he’ll never get sick of, the person with whom he most wants to work next, the fellow 2019 nominee he most wants to meet, who would write the show about his life and what it would be called, his favorite past Tonys performance, who he wants to host next year’s Tony Awards, and his quote to live by.