Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Fosse"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark


a celebration in song and dance

Choreography by Bob Fosse

Production Directed by Richard Maltby, Jr.

Choreography Recreated by Chet Walker

Co-Directed and Co-Choreographed by Ann Reinking

Artistic Advisor Gwen Verdon

Musical Director Patrick S. Brady
Set and Costume Design by Santo Loquasto
Lighting Design by Andrew Bridge
Sound Design by Jonathan Deans
Production Stage Manager Mary Porter Hall
Stage Managers Lori Lundquist, Mary Harwell


Cubie Burke
Valerie Pettiford
Jane Lanier
Eugene Fleming
Desmond Richardson
Sergio Trujillo
Kim Morgan Greene
Mary Ann Lamb
Dana Moore
Reva Rice
Scott Wise
Julio Augustin, Brad Anderson, Mark Arvin, Andy Blankenbuehler,Mark Calamia, Holly Cruikshank, Lisa Gajda, Scott Jovovich, Christopher R. Kirby, Dede LaBarre, Susan Lamontagne, Deborah Leamy, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Brad Musgrove, Sean Gregory Palmer, Elizabeth Parkinson, Michael Paternostro, Rachelle Rak, Mark C. Seis, Josh Rhodes, Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez, Tracy Terstreip, J. Kathleen Watkins, Christopher Windom


Sil D'Urbano, Mark Pinto, Tom Ferrante, Bob Bowlby, Mark Phaneuf
Larry Pyatt, Joe Glogianni, John Allmark, Rick Hammett
Rick Stepton, Jeff Gallndo, Peter Cirelli
Chris Neville, Janet Hood, Ethyl Will
Guitar, John Wilkins
Bass, Michael Farquharson
Drums, Perry Cavari
Percussion, Mark Worgaftik

Bob Fosse deserves a celebration, and the creators of this one have dedicated it to "all the performers who originally sang and danced these numbers in his shows, motion pictures, and television programs." And there certainly were a lot of them. The list of musicals that provided "dance elements" for one number alone ("Fosse's World" --- a sort of dictionary of movements) includes: "Damn Yankees" "Redhead" "New Girl in Town" "Little Me" "Sweet Charity" "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" "Cabaret" and "Chicago". And that's just a beginning. The show's three acts have twenty-five different numbers and if they hadn't cut into the show-stopping applause for half a dozen of them, instead of three hours the show could have gone on forever.

"Fosse style" movement is distinctive, and some elements are obvious: the isolations, the mobile shoulders and undulating hips, the knock-knees and angularities, the bowler hats and white gloves, the knees and elbows and flat-on-the-back crawls across- stage are trademarks. But his unique vocabulary holds much more. He used the whole foot, toes and heels and insteps, and that meant a lot of subtle moves for the ankles. He whipped heads around for punctuation marks, used chins as spearheads or metronomes, and threw bodies into contortion-like freezes. The Fosse leap is never straight, but has spine and shoulders and hands curving up and off to the right. Though he knew the value of small, simple, taut movements, solos are often breakneck frenzies of constant motion and invention, exhilarating and exhausting to watch. And he had an all-encompassing eye that sent masses in motion, often repeating explosive gestures arhythmically out of unison yet melding into a single structure.

The way Fosse made bodies move called for melodies and orchestrations of complicated rhythmic richness and variety. The finale here (from "Dancin'"), is an ensemble piece to Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing Sing" with the 1938 Carnegie Hall solos for trombone, trumpet, clarinet and piano reproduced and turned into motion. Throughout the evening, it's the raw power of Patrick S. Brady's 21-piece jazz orchestra that gives the choreographer several cadences and climaxes to move to, pushing bodies across the stage and into the air.

There are curtains and scrims in Santo Loquasto's sets, and two huge square proscenium arches, seen as from backstage with working lights used to sugest a life in the theater, but often they are swung back to clear the big Colonial stage for action. (And whose inspiration was it to pick out the huge gilded proscenium arch of the building, glitteringly renovated, in a precisely lit golden frame for the night's celebration? That deserves a gold star.) And then, from time to time, Andrew Bridge's lights not only dazzle, but the light-beams themselves begin to dance! The design of the entire show in all aspects, including beutifully balanced sound design by Jonathan Deans, is elegantly selfless, focusing attention exactly where it should be: on the dancing.

The cheapest seats here are $25.00, but the word is that nearly every one of the $68.50 orchestra seats were snapped up even before the show opened. This is a pre-Broadway engagement, and from the look of it here in Boston it should please Big Apple audiences (with a $75.00 top no less) for a long time before drifting back this way. If you can still get seats, no matter where they are and how much they cost, you should go. This is a huge Fosse retrospective, including staged versions of movie numbers ("Mein Herr" from "Cabaret", the "Take Off With Us" number from "All That Jazz") and television specials. It's a lovingly composed, joyously danced celebration of a sorely missed volcano of imagination and wit. See it if you can.


"Fosse" (till 27 September)
106 Boylston Street, BOSTON

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