Department of Theatre Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts

wayne lamb

Wayne Lamb was a dancer, choreographer, theatre director, and professor. Born in Centerville, Kansas in 1920, he entered the University of Wichita to study literature, but left to tour with Earl Carroll’s Vanities, playing five shows a day. After serving in the U.S. Army, he went to New York City, where he was a student at the American Theatre Wing from 1947–50, studying with such dance legends as Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Katherine Dunham.

Wayne’s Broadway career began with a solo dance performance in the 1946 revival of Yours is My Heart, followed by Make Mine Manhattan (starring Sid Caesar), The Day Before Spring and Call Me Mister. He also toured internationally from 1948-50 as a concert dancer with the Elena Imaz International Dance Trio. In addition, Wayne danced on many early television variety shows, including Your Show of Shows, The Martha Raye ShowToast of the Town (later called The Ed Sullivan Show), and The Colgate Comedy Hour, working alongside comics such as Buddy Hackett, Nancy Walker and Imogene Coca. Later in his career, in 1974, he went on a USO Tour of the United States Pacific Command, playing fifty-two shows to more than 10,000 troops.

In 1955 Wayne began directing, performing, and choreographing at the Barn Theatre, a summer stock theatre in Augusta, Michigan, where he later became an associate producer. He also taught dance at a number of dance schools, colleges, and universities before joining the Purdue faculty in 1960. During his twenty-six years at Purdue, Wayne taught, choreographer, and directed, and inspired theatre students with his love of dance and musical theatre.

Wayne retired from Purdue in 1986 at the rank of Associate Professor and received the title Professor Emeritus of Theatre the following year. Over the course of his lengthy career he became a member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors’ Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Association of Community Theatre.

In retirement, Wayne spent time with his partner, performer Angelo Mango, both in Augusta, Michigan and New York City. He passed away on June 5, 2001, but his legacy lives on, certainly in the hearts and minds of his former students. 

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