The black derbies and white gloves are being unpacked in Los Angeles for the Oct. 9 first preview of Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance at the Ahmanson Theatre.
The previously announced Oct. 19 opening has been bumped to Oct. 21 to allow a breather for the Broadway-bound musical’s dancers, who would have been working nine performances in a row leading to the opening, according to a Livent spokesman.
Fosse is poised to open the same week -- in the same complex -- as L.A.’s other major musical theatre event: A revised mounting of Stephen Sondheim’s Off-Broadway revue, Putting It Together , starring Carol Burnett, opening Oct. 25 at the Mark Taper Forum. Both the Taper and the Ahmanson are housed in L.A.’s Music Center.
Fosse, the three-act revue of dance numbers created by legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, whose costume trademarks were Chaplinesque derbies and white gloves, continues at the Ahmanson through Dec. 6. Broadway previews begin Dec. 26 at the Broadhurst Theatre, with an opening set for Jan. 14, 1999. Fosse has imput from Fosse legend Gwen Verdon and is co-directed by Fosse protégé Ann Reinking, with Richard Maltby Jr. The tryout tour was seen in Toronto and Boston this past summer. It isn’t clear yet if the L.A. stand will be a three-act, 2-hour-40-minute version, as it was over the summer. As is the case with most new pre-Broadway ventures, cuts, additions and changes are to be expected.
For information about L.A. Fosse tickets, call (213) 628-2772. *
Fosse began a world premiere six-week Broadway tryout July 16 at Livent Inc.'s Ford Center for the Performing Arts in Toronto. It played the Colonial Theatre run at Boston opened in previews Sept. 8 and closed Sept. 27.
The building of Fosse's momentum should come as a relief to those who were worried Livent's recent financial troubles (including the suspension of former CEO Garth Drabinsky for keeping two sets of books) would adversely affect upcoming Livent projects, including Seussical and The Night They Raided Minsky's.
Fosse, a song-and-dance show, collects an entire evening's worth of dance standards from the man whose distinctive dance style was showcased in Sweet Charity, Damn Yankees, Chicago, Dancin', the film of Cabaret and All That Jazz, plus many other Broadway shows and films. Among the numbers in the summer staging of Fosse were five film numbers that have never been seen on stage.
The Broadhurst was a lucky house for Fosse -- that's where his Dancin' ran 1,774 performances.
Reinking won a Tony Award for choreographing Broadway's current Chicago revival "in the style of" Fosse. She serves as co-director and co-choreographer.
Reinking is obviously a Livent favorite, since she's already beeen tapped to choreograph the company's upcoming revival of Rodgers & Hart's Pal Joey. Other Reinking credits include acting in the Bye Bye Birdie national tour and starring on Broadway in the Fosse-directed Sweet Charity.
The show will have no narrative and be styled in a vein similar to Maltby's Ain't Misbehavin', in which music and dance drive the storyline. Verdon, star of Fosse’s Sweet Charity and the original Chicago , serves as artistic advisor to Fosse, while Verdon and Fosse's daughter, Nicole Fosse, served as Ballet Mistress to the show's eight week workshop in Toronto.
Featured in Fosse are recreations of such Fosse hits as "Life is Just A Bowl of Cherries," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Steam Heat" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now." Film-based sequences include "Take Off With Us" (from All That Jazz, "Alley Dance" from My Sister Eileen, "Mein Herr" from Cabaret, and "Cool Hand Luke," originally performed on a 1967 Bob Hope TV special.
Dancers in the show include Scott Wise (State Fair ), Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Mary Ann Lamb (Chicago), Eugene Fleming, Desmond Richardson, Sergio Trujillo, Kim Morgan Greene, Dana Moore, Reva Rice.
For Fosse tickets on Broadway, call (212) 239-6200.
At the Fosse press preview, it was history come to life as a group of hoofers took to the tiny Walter Carsen Centre stage with a crisp new version of Rich Man's Frug (from Sweet Charity ) and Mr. Bojangles (from Dancin').
The black-and-white leotards, bowler hats and splayed arms and legs dazzled a tiny crowd of invited press and it was as if somewhere just offstage, Bob Fosse had to come to life and was snapping his fingers in time to the music.
The company did just two numbers and a bit, but that was enough to know that the 34 dancers had managed to soak in the archness, angles and attitude that exemplified Fosse's brand of choreography.
In addition to serving as co-director and co-choreographer for Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance, Ann Reinking will create the original choreographer and join playwright Terrence McNally, director Frank Galati and musical supervisor John Mauceri on Livent's upcoming "restoration" of the classic Rodgers and Hart musical, Pal Joey.
A first reading of that show was scheduled to take place at Livent's Fifth Annual Summer Festival of New Works at York University this summer. A first, out-of-town production, in a city to be announced, is anticipated by the end of 1999.