"Most of these champion dancers never studied ballet or tap, so we had to teach these skills as well. That made the normal three-week process six weeks long, but it also built great trust. Paul Kelly [credited with the original concept] brought me all these great ideas, and the show developed from our core ideas, but anyone with a good idea could contribute." Talk about collaboration! Jack Viertel (creative director of the Jujamcyn Theatres) served as dramaturg and, of course, Jerry Zaks (also on the Jujamcyn team) was the production supervisor. "That was a totally unique experience," Taylor-Corbett reveals, "because there were no guidelines, either for this odd little bird of a show that kept morphing, or for my relationship with Jerry. But he told me, 'I don't want to direct, I'll just meddle.' Of course, he made numerous pivotal suggestions and always pushed me harder. There certainly was no loneliness on this show," she laughs.
If Comden and Green had only waited a few years, they could have based Wonderful Town on the New York misadventures of then-dancer Taylor-Corbett and her actress-dancer sister Sharon Talbot, instead of on Ruth MacKenna's colorful New Yorker stories. Taylor-Corbett's currently working on Freenie Baker Didn't Steal the Mink, which she calls "a labor of my heart." And who's Freenie Baker? Why that was 18-year-old Taylor-Corbett's alias...well, that is, her alter-ego at a crooked modeling agency where they "borrowed" jewels and furs for shoots. Taylor-Corbett (aka Freenie) signed for the deliveries, and when the crooks skedaddled with the goods, the cops went hunting for Freenie. She was also a hat check girl at a mafia-owned nightclub and a juggler's assistant. But these dramatized stories of her colorful past adventures will have to wait for the first Swing tour to get underway, and for Taylor-Corbett to finish up a work-in-progress about Lena Horne and Marian Anderson, which she's creating with Vivian Reed (Bubbling Brown Sugar).
For Taylor-Corbett, life is certainly beautiful at the theater, and as soon as she finds the right outfit for the Tony Awards, she will be too.