Names in the news, Oct. 15

Posted Oct. 14, 2011, at 8:26 p.m.

Along with Bill T. Jones, Twyla Tharp is among a handful of living choreographers who are celebrated both in the not-for-profit arts world and in commercial theater. Arguably the most prolific female choreographer in history, Tharp has won almost every major award a pillar of dance can win, including the MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship and a Tony Award for “Movin’ Out,” which toured the nation and played in London. She pairs modern dance and ballet with popular music to tell mostly wordless stories, attracting wide audiences that might not ordinarily go to strictly dance shows. Her latest project, “Come Fly Away,” draws on the recordings of Frank Sinatra and revolves around four couples in a stylish nightclub who fall in and out of love. The score is larded with such hit songs as “My Funny Valentine,” “Makin’ Whoopee” and “New York, New York.” For Tharp, the show is part of her Sinatra obsession. She first used the music of the Rat Pack crooner nearly 30 years ago with a piece called “Nine Sinatra Songs.” Over the years, she has done four Sinatra-themed shows. “Movin’ Out,” her love- and war-themed production that used the music of Billy Joel and was set in the Vietnam era, premiered in 2002 in Chicago before going to Broadway and then on to national tours. … Larry Hagman has been diagnosed with cancer. The 80-year-old actor is famous for playing J.R. Ewing on “Dallas.” In a statement Friday, he said: “As J.R. I could get away with anything — bribery, blackmail and adultery. But I got caught by cancer.” Hagman declined to specify what kind of cancer he’s contracted, but said it’s “a very common and treatable form.” He plans to continue working on a new reboot of “Dallas” for TNT, which begins production Monday. The new “Dallas” focuses on the Ewing offspring as they clash over the future of the family dynasty.

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