Arts Diary: Tim's Tributes to Kelly and Astaire

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IT WAS so long ago I could not recall exactly when I first saw American singer/ dancer Tim Flavin in the Rodgers and Hart show On Your Toes . ``It was 1984,'' Flavin reminds me and he has good reason for recalling the date. ``That show started a whole new life for me. I was called over from the States to do it and it was a huge success - I was in it for a year andahalf.''

Flavin had co-starred with Natalia Makarova, the Russian-born ballet dancer who had defected to the West, and a highlight was a lengthy ballet sequence of Slaughter on Tenth Avenue ``Until then I had been a gipsy for around six years,'' he says,gipsy being the dance world's name for a chorus dancer. ``That's because we lead a sort of nomadic life.''

Flavin finally settled in Britain and tomorrow he is in Liverpool for a celebration of musicals in Hollywood and Broadway at thePhilharmonic Hall. He has been busy in the interim. There have been musicals like The Gay Divorce and Kiss Me Kate and comedies like Divorce Me Darling and No Way to Treat a Lady together with numerous television appearances. He most recently recreated the role of Billy Buck Chandler in another revival, the Gershwin musicalMy One and Only in London's West End. His last appearance here, however, was something very different. ``I played Brad in the Rocky Horror Show,'' he says. ``He's the boring hero who gets called names by the audience.''

Houston-born, Flavin was 14 before he started training for dance. …