Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Dance Party: On the Acheson, Topeka, and the Sante Fe

Like his co-stars Burt Lahr, Jack Haley, and Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger’s career will always be defined by his appearance in The Wizard of Oz (the film turns 70 years old this year). But he had a booming stage and film career back in the day, and was a first-class hoofer. His dancing never rose to the elegant heights of Astaire’s, and he never achieved the athletic muscularity of Gene Kelly, but as a character dancer, a “clown tapper,” if you will, he was lots of fun. If you needed a dancer who could bring goofy charm to a routine, Bolger was your man. The limited dancing he exhibited in Wizard of Oz did not reflect his full toe-tapping talent, so in his honor, and for no particular reason, enjoy this week’s Dance Party, from The Harvey Girls, in which he goes all out with a song made famous by his Oz costar: