When Steven Levenson first signed on to write a television series focused on genre-defining director-choreographer Bob Fosse, it wasn’t clear to him or his fellow creators—who include director and executive producer Thomas Kail and executive producer Lin-Manuel Miranda—what the story was.
“The thing that Tommy and I locked in on as we first started talking about it together—the thing that unlocked it for us, I should say—is when we started to think of it as not the story of Bob Fosse, but the story of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon,” says the writer behind Dear Evan Hansen and the recent Days of Rage. “It’s really about this romance and this creative partnership that lasted decades, and changed, and morphed into so many different things."
The end result is the upcoming FX drama Fosse/Verdon, based on Sam Wasson's biography Fosse and starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as the legendary director-choreographer Bob Fosse and triple threat performer Gwen Verdon.
“It’s really just a fascinating story of these two people that were bound together inextricably somehow and yet were constantly battling each other, battling themselves,” says the writer. “There’s this gnarly fascinating human story at the center of it—and it’s not even around it—because these two people were both a clash and an embrace, depending on the year.”
Beginning with The Pajama Game, Fosse redefined dance in musical theatre and created groundbreaking works as a choreographer, including Damn Yankees, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Redhead, Little Me, and a director-choreographer, including Sweet Charity, Pippin, and Chicago. Verdon, a captivating performer, originated the roles of Lola in his Damn Yankees, Essie in Redhead, Charity in Sweet Charity, Roxie Hart in his Chicago, and more.
And Levenson assures us that audiences will get a taste of their work, as well as their relationship. “There are different parts of us in telling the story. There’s the part of us that's interested in this human story and then there's also... to feed our [theatre] nerd, all of us making it.”
He and the full team relish that they “get to spend our days talking about Pippin and Damn Yankees and figuring out cool ways for the two stories—the love affair and the story of this art—in a way that those all kind of swirl together.”
An air date has not yet been set for the eight-episode series, but the show does have a projected 2019 premiere on FX.