Valarie Pettiford and Jane Lanier, the dancer-singers who helped create the heat and jazz at the center of Fosse on tour before Broadway and in New York, will leave the Tony Award-winning musical July 18.
Pettiford, the first performer the audience encounters in the revue of work by the late dancer-choreographer Bob Fosse, was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She croons "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries," a Fosse favorite, at the top of the show and later in the third act.
Pettiford, a veteran of Livent's Show Boat and Fosse's final original show, Big Deal, will go into rehearsal July 28 for the London staging of Chicago. She'll play Velma Kelly opposite Chita Rivera's Roxie Hart. Performances with the pair begin Aug. 16 at the Adelphi Theatre. Pettiford will stay with the show six months until Feb. 16.
"She's always wanted to work with Chita," Pettiford's manager Tony Rader, told Playbill On-Line. "It's an opportunity that was presented and an opportunity to work on another Bob [Fosse] show." Rader said that reports that Pettiford was unhappy with Livent and the management of Fosse were untrue.
Lanier, whose close-cropped red hair recalls the look of Fosse icons Shirley MacLaine, Gwen Verdon and Carol Haney, will return to her home in Los Angeles, where her kids are beginning the school year, according to a Fosse spokesman. Lanier is married to John Rubinstein, currently playing Tateh in Ragtime on Broadway. In Fosse, Lanier is center stage for "Steam Heat," flanked by two male dancers.
Both actresses have been with the show since its 1998 pre-Broadway engagements in Toronto, Boston and Los Angeles.
Following 1999 Best Musical Tony Award win, the show's already-healthy ticket sales have boomed (recently playing to 101 percent, which includes standing room). Tickets are on sale through early 2000; a national tour begins in Chicago in September.
Replacements for Pettiford and Lanier in Broadway's Fosse have not been named.