Woodrow “Woody” Thompson was a principal singer, dancer and actor. His impressive and varied credits ranged from performing with Wynton Marsalis and conductor Claudio Abbado to being chosen by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber as the first African-American to play the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar. He performed all over the world.
While working as a featured dancer in San Francisco’s longest-running dance show, Ann Garvin’s Dance Between the Lines, Woody was invited to a private audition for Michael Bennett’s International Broadway Company of A Chorus Line. He was immediately selected to play the role of Ritchie and toured internationally for many years as part of this production.
After touring extensively throughout Mexico with Humberto Navaro Productions’ Lila Deneken, Woody was invited by the Rengaya Company of Japan to create a solo show. His Cotton Club Revue was presented nightly at the Shanghai Jaja Club in Nagoya and received rave reviews. During the day, Woody taught dance and gave vocal lessons to Japanese and international students.
After Japan, Woody toured Africa for a year and a half, working in Sun City as a principal dancer and dance captain for Ron Lewis and Roger Minami’s Extravaganza 6. He then moved to Cape Town, South Africa, where he started his own company, Ad Art Dance Company. This led to a large variety of choreographic work for high-end fashion shows and dance companies.
Working with Domino Blue Productions, Woody performed throughout Europe, including shows in Germany, Greece, Italy, Austria and Bulgaria. His German credits include choreographer and actor in the role of Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and choreographer for the Deutscher Filmpreis (Lola Awards), Germany’s highest movie award.
Woody also performed in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess at the Theater des Westens in Berlin. In addition, he performed the role of Hud in Hair at the Theater Bielefeld at the Staatstheater Kassel. In Augsburg, he performed the role of Chantal in La Cage aux Folles.
Woody was a featured dancer in Aida at the Deutsche Opera. He performed the role of Judah in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Stella Productions) and played Jesus at the Leipzig Opera.
Other choreography credits include the musical Pico in Hamburg, Germany, in addition to acrobatic/dance choreography for Flip, Flop and Fly, a rock-n-roll acrobatic formation team that won the Acrobatic Formation World Championship in Vienna, Austria.
As a baritone soloist, Woody had the honor of performing with Wynton Marsalis and the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra in the production All Rise, directed by Claudio Abbado, one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century.
Shortly after returning to the Bay Area, Woody experienced several health issues, which resulted in him receiving a kidney transplant. In true “the show must go on” spirit, Woody continued to teach dance, voice and musical theater. He was Debbie Sternbach’s original co-teacher with Dance Moves Me! for Parkinson’s, and he choreographed many fabulous dances for their PD dancers. Woody delighted in sharing his talents with the Parkinson’s Community and the world. We were all so lucky to work with Woody. He taught us so much. Woody will be sorely missed and his memory will live forever in our hearts.