Best Merlin of Musicals

Gustavo E. Urdaneta

As a performer, his Betty Boop voluptuousness, Ricky Ricardo accent, and John Travolta penchant for self-mockery made his eponymous Raoul in Beck Center's Eating Raoul the most giddy creation since the birth of the leisure suit. As a director, particularly of Once on This Island and Chicago, Urdaneta demonstrated an uncanny ability for recruiting and refining raw talent, unearthing buried charms, and transforming showbiz wannabes into old pros. As this city's most inventive choreographer, he shuns re-creation for bold reinvention. In Evita, he created a waltz between two antagonists in which they expressed their mutual contempt by refusing to touch. His specialty is making dancing neophytes look like gazelles. The secret of his success is his knack for surrounding himself with a coterie of devoted emerging talent, all charging themselves off his limitless energy.