When she played Velma Kelly in the hit revival of Chicago with Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth sang, "I Just Can't Do It Alone," but beginning April 28, she does just that — goes solo — as the star name of Fosse.
In recent weeks, Neuwirth and Reinking have been headlining the heretofore ensemble-oriented revue that revives the dances of the late choreographer Bob Fosse. Reinking's run with Neuwirth ended April 27, but Neuwirth continues to strut at the Broadhurst Theatre, through May 27.
Reinking joined the company and show she helped create — as co-conceiver, co-director and co-choreographer — on March 2, during a period when Ben Vereen was already guest-headlining the retrospective. Vereen exited April 1, but returns on Memorial Day, to play the summer months.
As if taking a cue from one of the show's songs, "There'll Be Some Changes Made," there have been adjustments to the Tony Award-winning show: After Scott Wise left the company earlier in spring, the "Shoeless Joe" baseball sequence was cut, which reflects the running order of the streamlined national tour. With due respect to the creators, observers had pointed to the baseball ballet from Damn Yankees as out of sync with the rest of the stylized show. No sequences were added, but during the casting of Vereen, Reinking and Neuwirth, songs and sections had been variously reassigned. A number called "Walking the Cat" that featured Reinking, Neuwirth and Ken Alan will now feature just Neuwirth and Alan. After Vereen left, Eugene Fleming opened the show with "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" (taking over from Vereen, who had taken the song previously sung by Stephanie Pope) and will continue to do so. The "Cool Hand Luke" section, originally a trio, was a duet with Reinking and Neuwirth. It becomes a trio again with Neuwirth as one-third of the whole April 28.
Beginning April 28, Neuwirth will also perform "Mein Herr" (which Reinking handled) and "Bye Bye Blackbird" (sung by Reinking) and continues sizzling in "Steam Heat."
Reinking was originally announced to April 29, but cut out a few days ahead of schedule. Her next project is choreographing the new musical, The Visit, at the Goodman Theatre in September. Chita Rivera stars.
Bebe Neuwirth was originally announced for four weeks only, beginning April 2, but the solo extension to May 27 followed.
Adding star names to the Best Musical Tony Award-winning ensemble show has kept audiences excited about Fosse. Reinking has indicated in Playbill On-Line interviews that new dance sequences may be a part of Fosse in the future.
Neuwirth, like Reinking, is a veteran of Fosse's work. She won a Tony Award in Fosse's Broadway revival of Sweet Charity (playing Nickie), and another for playing Velma Kelly in the smash revival of Chicago, choreographed by and co-starring Reinking, who created dances "in the style of Bob Fosse." Fosse was the original director-choreographer of Chicago in 1975 and created the movement for the films of "Cabaret" and "All That Jazz," for TV specials and for such Broadway shows as New Girl in Town, Redhead, Pippin, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, The Pajama Game, Big Deal and the revue Dancin'.
Neuwirth (widely known as Lilith on TV's "Cheers" and "Frasier") has returned to the still-running smash revival of Chicago several times since it began in 1996. She most recently appeared in it (next door, at the Shubert Theatre) in February and early March 2001.
Dancer Reinking was a longtime favorite of director choreographer Bob Fosse, whose work the show celebrates. She appeared in featured roles is his popular revue, Dancin', and in his film, "All That Jazz." Reinking, linked personally and professionally to Fosse, co directed Fosse with Richard Maltby Jr.
Fosse opened Jan. 14, 1999, and won the Best Musical Tony Award in 1999. It marked the last Broadway musical that actress-dancer Gwen Verdon worked on. Verdon, Fosse's widow and dance collaborator (and star) for New Girl in Town, Redhead, Sweet Charity and Damn Yankees was Fosse's artistic advisor, working closely with pal Reinking.
Tickets are $35-$85. The Broadhurst is at 235 W. 44th Street. For ticket information, call (212) 582-1200.