BROADWAY, TELEVISION DANCER STILL HOOFING AT PALM SPRINGS FOLLIESLeonard Crofoot, Age 60, Looks Back At Diverse Career
Palm Springs, California (December 17, 2008) It’s difficult to reconcile the Leonard John Crofoot cavorting spryly on a stage matinees and evenings, executing pas de deux and acrobatic leaps, with the youngster once confined to a wheelchair in Lawndale, Calif., for three years, unable to walk.
To recover from hip perthes, a joint ailment that afflicted his frail legs at the age of 4, little Leonard turned to ballet lessons at 7 for recuperative exercise. Now the diminutive Crofoot, 60, has capped a long career in dance and show business with his energetic performances in the Palm Springs Follies.
He joined the cast three seasons ago because, simply, “I was looking for work. Randy Doney (a 10-year Follies cast member) called and asked if I was available? I didn’t have to audition. I sent them a Nijinsky promo tape.”
Doney had seen Nijinsky Speaks, the one-man show that Crofoot created on the fabled Russian ballet dancer and took on tour for nine years. He already had compiled an impressive curriculum vitae that started with the Kirov Ballet at 12, emulating a grasshopper; that flourished with his first Broadway show, The Happy Time, in which he auditioned for Gower Champion by singing “Happy Birthday” and then wowing him with “Yankee Doodle Dandy”; that peaked with his signature role as Gen. Tom Thumb in the original cast of Barnum, a long-running hit. His vocal rendition of “Bigger Isn’t Better” as Tom Thumb in Barnum can be heard on a popular CD of musical highlights called “Broadway Scene Stealers.” (A young John Travolta in Over Here! is on the same disc.)
Crofoot was on the Great White Way from 1967 to 1985, adding Gigi to his musical show repertoire. He moved on the next year to television, playing diverse roles in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and one of Star Trek: Voyager. He is pictured here in the season one episode “Angel One” as the character “Trent”. He also ventured into film roles.
But terpsichore remained his wellspring, and Leonard is featured as one of 40 notable dancers, ranging from classicists Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova to Broadway’s Joel Grey and Chita Rivera, who were photographed and interviewed in depth for the recently published book, Dancer Within, by Rose Eichenbaum.
At 5 feet 4 inches and 141 pounds, Crofoot is a clone in size for the great Nijinsky and was once likened by Sir Anton Dolin, a contemporary of the Russian dancer, to a young version of the ballet immortal. He even has the same high cheekbones, derived from his part-Sioux heritage – his father once lived on a Sioux Nation reservation in South Dakota.
His wife, Robin Palanker, is a visual artist who works in oils and also teaches in a program at the University of Southern California. They have been married 19 years. She suggested the show on Nijinsky, whose total immersion in dance ultimately drove him to insanity, because Leonard had the same obsession for performing. And the same anxieties. He used to throw up regularly before the curtain was raised.
“Every show for me has a personal and sensitive life of its own,” he says. “I’m in an altered state.”
He brings the same passion to his varied turns on the Follies stage, where he is easily singled out as the smallest song-and-dance man. “Mr. (Riff) Markowitz (the show’s director) wishes I were two inches taller,” says Crowfoot with a twinkle. “But it’s been a plus for me. I’m having a great time. What surprises me is that everybody (in the geriatric cast) is still dancing and doing what they’re doing.”
And quite well as senior citizens.
Crofoot Profile: http://www.psfollies.com/pr/profiles/Crofoot.php
Follies on My Space: http://www.myspace.com/thefabulouspalmspringsfollies
Follies on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Palm-Springs-CA/The-Fabulous-Palm-Springs-Follies/10251713606
Follies on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/psfollies/collections/
Follies on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/psfollies
Leonard Crofoot on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Crofoot
Randy Doney Profile: http://www.psfollies.com/pr/profiles/Doney.php
Nijinsky Speaks: http://www.nijinskyspeaks.com/
Broadway Scene Stealers: http://www.amazon.com/Broadway-Scene-Stealers-Ben-Wright/dp/B000NJISHK/ref=pd_bxgy_m_img_b
Crofoot on the Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=95494
Crofoot on the Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0188447/
The Dancer Within on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Dancer-Within-Intimate-Conversations-Dancers/dp/0819568805/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228195263&sr=1-1
The Dancer Within excerpt: http://www.psfollies.com/multimedia/pr/images/cast/crofoot/crofoot_leonard_dancer_within_excerpt.pdf
Riff Markowitz Profile: http://www.psfollies.com/pr/profiles/markowitz.php
Crofoot “Yankee Doodle Dandy” Video: http://www.psfollies.com/pr/video.php
Crofoot Star Trek Profile: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Leonard_Crofoot
During its 18 seasons, The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has been seen by nearly three million patrons, and celebrates the music and dance of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s with a cast ranging in age from 55 to 85 years “young.” The show features lavish, Broadway-caliber production numbers and plays five days a week from late October through May 17. In 1997, it was the subject of an Oscar-nominated short documentary entitled Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies. The show is housed in downtown Palm Springs’ historic Plaza Theatre–a charming, neon-encrusted, storybook old movie house–and is an attraction itself. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at (760) 327-0225 or online at www.psfollies.com.
Contact Information:Greg Purdy, Media Relations 760-778-7654 (not for publication)125 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Ste. 209, Palm Springs, CA firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Site: http://www.psfollies.com/media