One of my favorite things as a theater fan is looking at show photos. They are all truly art. These days, if you look at the credit under the picture, you'll likely see names like Joan Marcus, Carol Rosegg and Matthew Murphy. But all of them owe a debt of knowledge and gratitude to a woman who changed the world of theater and dance photography forever: Martha Swope.
Hired by Jerome Robbins back in 1957 to take rehearsal photos of West Side Story, Ms. Swope was then became photographer for several New York dance companies. It is her work on Broadway shows, however, that most of us are familiar with. The iconic photos of Dreamgirls, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Pippin, Chicago and Into the Woods are instantly recognizable. Perhaps most famous of all is her capturing of A Chorus Line, whose legendary pose became the show's logo. Then, too, is it's other iconic image, that of the cast in the "'One' Wedge." Her career spanned decades, from the mid-1950s - mid-1990s.
Sadly, she passed away in 2017 at the age of 88. Her legacy lives on, however. In 2010, she donated 1.5 million images to the New York Public Library, as well as a career's worth of proofs, negatives, and other memorabilia.
The Broadway Who's Who:
DID YOU KNOW?
BIRTH: February 22, 1928
DEATH: January 12, 2017
BIRTHPLACE: Tyler, Texas
EDUCATION: Baylor University, School of American Ballet
HONORS: 2004 Tony Honors Recipient, 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women
THEATER CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
WEST SIDE STORY
A CHORUS LINE