By Kenneth Jones
25 Dec 1998
The work of choreographer Bob Fosse, always known for its slinky, hot, isolated muscle movements, is even hotter than expected this holiday season: Fosse, the new dance retrospective beginning performances Dec. 26 at the Broadhurst Theatre, is largely sold out for its Broadway preview period.
Previews continue to Jan. 13, 1999 and official opening is set for Jan. 14, 1999.
Insiders say Fosse, with its 33-member company of singers and dancers, is already selling well for a couple of reasons: The show is one of only three new Broadway musicals so far this season (joining Parade and Footloose) and the hit Chicago, which is staged “in the style of” Fosse, has primed theatregoers for a more expansive look at the work of the late choreographer, who died in 1987.
The Livent-produced revue is a “new musical” in the sense that it’s a newly arranged package of Fosse dances from previous Broadway shows, films, nightclubs acts and TV specials. 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 directed by Maltby, and co choreographed by Walker and Reinking.
Walker, a former Broadway dancer in Pippin and Dancin’, conceived the 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, similarly, does not have a storyline.
Expected in previews are recreations of famous dances from such Fosse choreographed musicals as Big Deal (his last show, in 1986), Chicago, Redhead, The Pajama Game, Pippin, Sweet Charity, Dancin’, films “All That Jazz,” “My Sister Eileen,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “Cabaret,” and the TV special, “Liza With a Z,” and more.
Featured in the company of dancers are Scott Wise (Jerome Robbins' Broadway, State Fair ), Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Mary Ann Lamb (Chicago), Eugene Fleming, Desmond Richardson, Sergio Trujillo, Kim Morgan Greene, Dana Moore and Elizabeth Parkinson, among others.
Designing Fosse are 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.
The production will be in a three-act form, as it was when it played summer tryouts in Toronto, Boston and Los Angeles.
Fosse is the last full production to emerge from the financially troubled Livent Inc. Despite bankruptcy proceedings for the Canadian based producer, its existing Broadway properties Ragtime, Parade and Fosse continue, and such projects as The Seussical and Sweet Smell of Success are still in development, according to Eleanor Goldhar, of Livent.
The Broadhurst was a lucky house for Fosse -- that's where his Dancin' ran 1,774 performances.
Among numbers expected in Fosse previews:
“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”)
“Alley Dance” (film, “My Sister Eileen”)
“I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man” (Dancin’)
“Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo” (Damn Yankees)
“Dancing in the Dark” (inspired by “the dance team of Bob Fosse and Mary Ann Niles”)
“I Love a Piano” (dance elements from Fosse appearances on TV variety shows)
“Steam Heat” (The Pajama Game)
“I Gotcha” (“Liza With a Z”)
“Rich Man’s Frug” (Sweet Charity)
“Cool Hand Luke” (choreographed for Gwen Verdon for 1968’s “Bob Hope Special”)
“Big Noise From Winnetka” (Dancin’)
“Me and My Shadow” (Big Deal)
“Nowadays” and “Hot Honey Rag” (Chicago)
“Mein Herr” (from the film “Cabaret”)
“Take Off With Us” (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’)
“Sing, Sing, Sing” (Dancin’)
For Fosse tickets on Broadway, call (212) 239-6200.