Apparently not wanting to end a good thing, SFX Entertainment is going to keep the hit national tour of Fosse dancing in Chicago rather than fulfill its December Toronto dates.
The musical opened Sept. 22 at the Windy City's Ford Center for the Performing Arts-Oriental Theatre. Sales are surging, according the producers. It was to play there only through Dec. 5, but the run will now extend to a yet-to-be-announced date, according to a statement from Fosse Touring LLC, an SFX company.
Chicago theatregoers can expect the show at least through the holidays.
The Toronto booking at the Pantages Theatre (Dec. 8-Jan. 8, 2000) has been scrapped, and the producers are hoping for new Canadian dates. The Phantom of the Opera is expected to ends its 10-year run there Oct. 31.
For Chicago Fosse information, call (312) 831-2600. *
The national tour of Fosse, which opened in Chicago Sept. 22, retains its three-act Broadway form (with one intermission and a "pause" between Acts 2 and 3), but co-directors Ann Reinking and Richard Maltby Jr. have streamlined the Best Musical Tony Award winner by jettisoning "Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, MO," "Nowadays" and "Hot Honey Rag."
Previews for the national tour began Sept. 14 at the Ford Center in Chicago. The engagement was first announced to last through Nov. 7 (with an extension to Dec. 5 announced later) and then open Dec. 8 in the city where it was developed: Toronto. Toronto is now off, for the time being.
The national tour of the ensemble show, a tribute to and recreation of the dances and musical numbers Bob Fosse shaped for TV, film, Broadway and nightclubs, is led by Reva Rice and Linda Bowen. Featured performers are Terace Jones, Julio Monge and April Nixon. The company includes Ken Alan, Ashley Bachner, Andrew Boyle, John Carroll, Christine Colby Jacques, Dylis Croman, Janice Cronkhite, Rick Delancy, Anika Ellis, Rick Faugno, Sara Gettelfinger, Darren Gibson, Meg Gillentine, Amy Hall, Sara Henry, Shawn Ku, Gelan Lambert Jr., Matt Loehr, Krisha Marcano, Cassel Miles, Greg Reuter, Vincent Sandoval, Jennifer Savelli.
The touring company has a cast of 28, compared to Broadway's 32, according to a comparison of Playbills.
The musical revue opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City Jan. 14, 1999. Previews began Dec. 26, 1998.
The Livent-nurtured show (now under the umbrella of SFX Entertainment Company, since Livent was bought by the company) is considered "new" in the sense that it's a repackaging of routines, dance elements and full numbers devised by Fosse, the onetime dancer, stage director choreographer and film director known for his slinky, hot, isolated muscle movements. The retrospective draws from previous Broadway shows (heavily from 1978's Dancin', another Fosse revue), films, nightclub acts and TV specials. Fosse died in 1987, after suffering a heart attack.
Credited with co-conceiving Fosse are Richard Maltby Jr., Chet Walker and Ann Reinking. Fosse's widow and longtime collaborator, the legendary dancer Gwen Verdon, is "artistic advisor." The production is co choreographed by Walker and Reinking.
Walker, a former Broadway dancer in Pippin and Dancin', conceived the idea of a retrospective with Fosse as early as 1986. Reinking is a Fosse protégé who appeared in Dancin' and "All That Jazz" and recreated Fosse's work for the hit revival of Chicago, in which she also starred.
Maltby is a director and lyricist (Big, Closer Than Ever, Miss Saigon) who staged the popular Ain't Misbehavin', a revue of Fats Waller's work. Fosse, like Ain't, does not have a storyline.
The show includes recreations of famous dances from such Fosse choreographed musicals as Big Deal (his last show, in 1986), Chicago, Redhead, New Girl in Town, The Pajama Game, Pippin, Sweet Charity, Dancin', films "All That Jazz," "Kiss Me Kate" and "Cabaret," and the TV special, "Liza With a Z," and more.
Fosse designers remain Santo Loquasto (set and costumes), Andrew Bridge (lighting) and Jonathan Deans (sound). Loquasto's recent credits include Ragtime, Nine Armenians and Barrymore. Orchestrations are by Ralph Burns and Doug Besterman.
Loquasto's set in New York uses twin prosceniums within the stage. The frames roll out from the wings to create new performance perspectives and dance spaces. Other times, the prosceniums roll back flat against the wings to allow the full depth of the stage to be used.
The production's three-act form was also used when it played summer 1998 tryouts in Toronto, Boston and Los Angeles. The production plays about 2 hours and 20 minutes on the road.
Fosse is the last full production to emerge from the financially troubled Livent Inc. The sale of the bankrupt company to SFX secured the futures of Broadway and touring companies of Ragtime and Fosse. The Livent-generated Seussical, a family musical, is expected to be nurtured under SFX as well.
The Sept. 14 program for the national tour of Fosse included the following musical numbers:
"Life is Just a Bowl Cherries" (Big Deal)
"Fosse's World" (dance elements inspired by "The Little Prince," How to Succeed... and other shows or films)
"Bye Bye Blackbird" ("Liza With a Z")
"From the Edge" (Dancin')
"Percussion 4" (Dancin')
"Big Spender" (Sweet Charity)
"Crunchy Granola Suite"(Dancin')
"From This Moment On" (from the film, "Kiss Me, Kate")
"Walking the Cat" (dance elements from Redhead)
"I Wanna Be a Dancin' Man" (Dancin')
"Transition" (dance elements from New Girl in Town)
"Dancing in the Dark" (inspired by "the dance team of Bob Fosse and Mary Ann Niles"; dance elements of Fosse and Niles of TV programs)
"Steam Heat" (The Pajama Game)
"I Gotcha" (TV's "Liza With a Z")
"Rich Man's Frug: The Aloof, The Heavyweight, The Big Finish" (Sweet Charity)
"Cool Hand Luke" (choreographed for Gwen Verdon for 1968's "Bob Hope Special")
"Big Noise From Winnetka" (Dancin')
"Dancin' Dan/Me and My Shadows" (Big Deal)
"Manson Trio" (Pippin)
"Mein Herr" (from the film "Cabaret")
"Take Off With Us -- Three Pas de Deux" (film, "All That Jazz")
"Razzle Dazzle" (Chicago)
"Who's Sorry Now?" ("All That Jazz")
"There'll Be Some Changes Made" ("All That Jazz")
"Mr. Bojangles" (Dancin')
"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" (Big Deal)
PART V: FINALE
"Sing, Sing, Sing" (Dancin')
-- By Kenneth Jones