‘Do You Know Who I Was?’ Former Broadway Dancer Now Choreographs In Harwich

[Not a valid template]So many people on Cape Cod come here after completing fascinating careers elsewhere. Today Capecod.com launches a series of profiles called ‘Do You Know Who I Was?’

Veteran Broadway dancer Terry Norgeot couldn’t have known that when she was hired by the Harwich Junior Theater in the early ’90s to choreograph a production of the musical “Gypsy,” it would be the start of over 20 years creating shows in the Cape theater community.

Since then she has taken on double duty as the director and choreographer on a number of productions including “Little Women” opening Friday at the Cape Cod Theater Company, home of the Harwich Junior Theater.

“It’s what we do” she said. “We multi-task.”

A Dancer’s Life

Before multi-tasking on the Cape, Norgeot had a long career as a professional dancer, touring the U.S., South America and beyond from 1972 through the early 1980s dancing in many Broadway musicals including “Annie Get Your Gun” with Barbara Eden.

“I had a ball,” she said, adding that the exhausting touring schedule “made me what I am.”
Norgeot related with some humor her best trick to get extra sleep on the coach-style tour buses: She’d set up a bed for herself and sleep while enroute to the next town in the overhead luggage rack.

Her travels brought her to the site of her future home, playing the summer season at The Cape Cod Melody Tent, a gig that included dancing in a production of ‘No No Nanette’ with Ruby Keiler and Don Amici. Terry said that one her biggest thrills was introducing her mother, dancer Yvette Farhill, to Keiler backstage at that performance.

Keiler was her mom’s inspiration to “get into the business”of dance, which led Yvette to a career on Broadway and working on the Ed Sullivan Show. Later she opened the Yvette Dance Studio in Terry’s childhood home, a half-hour outside of New York City, where she passed on the love of performing to her daughter. Continuing Yvette’s legacy, the school just celebrated it’s 61st anniversary.

Hello, Terry!

Norgeot recalled auditioning for jobs in New York City with notes her mom wrote to get her out of school. She would often miss weeks of lessons 
working in dinner theater, summer stock, and appearing with the Jerry Ames Tap Company at Lincoln Center when she was still in her teens.

In 1975, when Terry was only 21, she landed a gig touring with Pearl Bailey’s production of “Hello Dolly.” The show soon scored a run on Broadway. This was the first cast that Bailey assembled that was not entirely comprised of African Americans. Terry recalled that the star often referred to this more diverse company of performers as her “flower garden.”

Norgeot came to Cape Cod in 1990 with her husband Greg Norgeot, whom she met on a bus-and-truck tour of “My Fair Lady” in 1978; he was a member of the technical crew. The couple also own and operate the Ice Cream Cafe in Orleans.
 On the Cape, Norgeot branched out into choreography.

“I would not have had the courage or had the opportunity to have gone into this career while I was in New York City, because the competition is so out there, who’s going to even give you a job?” she said.

But after choreographing her first show on the Cape “it just started rolling.”

Little Women

“Little Women” reprises a successful run at the theater eight years ago. Terry was asked to bring it back again this season and thinks the familiar storyline is enhanced by the piece’s “gorgeous music and lyrics.”

Norgeot said that she is lucky to have her original Jo March (Caitlyn Mills) and Professor Bhaer (Richard Sullivan) returning to the cast of 10, which features Cape-based actors ranging in age from 16 to 60, as well as a live chamber orchestra playing arrangements for flute, cello, violin and piano. Two of the musicians are regular members of the Cape Symphony.

Norgeot said she likes to run her rehearsals with a professional structure, but gives her cast the freedom to be natural in their movements and character motivations. Through that process, she said “I try to teach people why I love musicials.”

See “Little Women” at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays from April 1 through May 1 at the Cape Cod Theater Company, home of the Harwich Junior Theater.  For online tickets go to: capecodtheatercompany.org or call 508-432-2002 for more information.

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