Project Description

FOSSE 1999 Broadway poster block

Fosse (Broadway)

FOSSE conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr., Chet Walker and Ann Reinking opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on January 14, 1999 and played 22 previews and 1,093 performances through August 25, 2001.

Livent ➜ SFX ➜ PACE ➜ ClearChannelProduced by Livent (U.S.) Inc. headed by founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, until spring 1998 when a new management team, headed by Michael Ovitz and investment banker Roy Furman, took over, then sold Livent (Canada and USA and it’s show assets including FOSSE) in Summer 1999 for $96 million to PACE Entertainment Corp.Pace Theatrical Group’s parent company SFX Entertainment until 2000 which sold SFX (including SFX Broadway, Inc. & SFX Theatrical Group, Inc. including Livent’s asset of FOSSE) again to Clear Channel Communications. Executive Producer: Beth Williams (from Aug 1999).

Directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Ann Reinking; Choreographed by Ann Reinking; Original Choreography by Bob Fosse; Choreography recreated by Chet Walker; Music orchestrated by Ralph Burns and Douglas Besterman; Music arranged by Gordon Lowry Harrell; Musical Director: Patrick S. Brady; Scenic & Costume Design by Santo Loquasto; Lighting Design by Andrew Bridge and Sound Design by Jonathan Deans.

Starring Jane Lanier, Valarie Pettiford, Eugene Fleming, Kim Morgan Greene,Mary Ann Lamb, Dana Moore, Elizabeth Parkinson, Desmond Richardson (Dec 26, 1998 – Sep 1999), Sergio Trujillo, Scott Wise, Julio Agustin, Brad Anderson, Andy Blankenbuehler, Marc Calamia, Holly Cruikshank, Lisa Gajda, Scott Jovovich, Christopher R. Kirby, Dede LaBarre, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Brad Musgrove, Michael Paternostro, Rachelle Rak, Lainie Sakakura and Alex Sanchez.

Swings: Bill Burns, Susan Lamontagne, Deborah Leamy, Sean Palmer, Josh Rhodes and J. Kathleen Watkins.

Assistant Choreographer: Debra McWaters; Dance Reconstructions by Brad Musgrove and Lainie Sakakura; Associate Scenic Design:Peter Eastman; Associate Costume Design: Mitchell Bloom; Associate Lighting Design: Vivien Leone; Associate Sound Design: Peter Hylenski; Livent Assoc. Costume Designer / Production Costume Coordinator: Janet Grant; Assistant Scenic Design: Emily Beck and Hyun-Joo Kim; Assistant Costume Design: Melanie Huston and Nancy Granfield; Assistant Lighting Design: Eric Chenault.

General Manager: Frank P. Scardino; taken over by General Manager: Alan Wasser Associates; Company Manager: Steve Quinn; Technical Director: James Milburn; Production Stage Manager:Mary Porter Hall; Assistant Stage Manager: Lori Lundquist and Mary Harwell.

Artistic Advisor: Gwen Verdon; Casting: Arnold Mungioli; Press Representative: Mary Bryant and Wayne Wolfe; Marketing: FourFront, Inc.; Online Marketing by Toby Simkin / Theatre.com Inc.; Dance Captain: Brad Musgrove and Lainie Sakakura; Livent (U.S.) Artistic Director: Todd Haimes; Assistant to the Director: Kurt Stamm; Promotions: Keith Hurd; Photographer: Catherine Ashmore and Joan Marcus; Additional photography: Cylla von Tiedemann and Special Thanks to Nicole Fosse.

Musical Supervisor: Gordon Lowry Harrell; Conducted by Patrick S. Brady; Associate Conductor: Ethyl Will; Musical Coordinator: John Miller; Woodwinds: Edward Joffe, Dale Kleps, Bill Easley, Walt Weiskopf and Allen Won; Trumpet: Craig Johnson, Scott Wendholt, Don Downs and Glenn Drewes; Trombone: Jim Pugh and Keith O’Quinn; Trombone/Tuba: Jeff Nelson; Synthesizer: Jon Werking, Seth Farber and Ethyl Will; Guitar: David Spinozza; Bass: Mike Hall; Drums: Perry Cavari; Percussion: Jim Saporito; Music Preparation Supervisor: Holly Carroll.

Featuring songs by Ray Henderson (“Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, “Bye Bye Blackbird”), Cy Coleman (“Big Spender” & “Rich Man’s Frug”), Neil Diamond (“Crunchy Granola Suite”), Harry Warren (“I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man”), Arthur Schwartz (“Dancing in the Dark”), Irving Berlin (“I Love a Piano”), Richard Adler (“Steam Heat” & Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo”), Jerry Ross (“Steam Heat” & “Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo”), Cole Porter (“From This Moment On”), Richard A. Whiting (“Hooray For Hollywood”), Patrick S. Brady (“Walking the Cat” & “Silky Thoughts”), Joseph Arrington, Jr. (“I Gotcha”), Lalo Schifrin (“Cool Hand Luke”), Ray Bauduc (“Big Noise From Winnetka”), Bob Haggart (“Big Noise From Winnetka”), Dave Dreyer (“Dancin’ Dan” & “Me and My Shadow”), Al Jolson (“Dancin’ Dan” & “Me and My Shadow”), John Kander (“Nowadays” & “Mein Herr” & “Razzle Dazzle” & “Hot Honey Rag”), Stephen Schwartz (“Glory” & “Manson Trio”), Jule Styne (“Got No Room for Mr. Gloom”), Louis Prima (“Sing, Sing, Sing”), Leon Barry (“Christopher Columbus”), Jerry Jeff Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”), W. Benton Overstreet (“There’ll Be Some Changes Made”), Harry Ruby (“Who’s Sorry Now?”), Stanley Lebowsky (“Take Off With Us – Three Pas De Deux”), G. Harrell (“Calypso” & “From the Edge” & “Percussion 4”) and Frederick Loewe (“Snake in the Grass”).

Featuring songs with lyrics by Mort Dixon (“Bye Bye Blackbird”), Lew Brown (“Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”), Dorothy Fields (“Big Spender”), Neil Diamond (“Crunchy Granola Suite”), Johnny Mercer (“I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man” & “Hooray For Hollywood”), Howard Dietz (“Dancing in the Dark”), Irving Berlin (“I Love a Piano”), Richard Adler (“Steam Heat” & “Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo”), Jerry Ross (“Steam Heat” & “Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo”), Cole Porter (“From This Moment On”), Joseph Arrington, Jr. (“I Gotcha”), Bob Crosby (“Big Noise From Winnetka”), Gil Rodin (“Big Noise From Winnetka”), Billy Rose (“Dancin’ Dan” & “Me and My Shadow”), Fred Ebb (“Nowadays” & “Mein Herr” & “Razzle Dazzle”), Stephen Schwartz (“Glory” & “Manson Trio”), Leo Robin (“Got No Room for Mr. Gloom”), Louis Prima (“Sing, Sing, Sing”), Andy Razaf (“Christopher Columbus”), Jerry Jeff Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”), Billy Higgins (“There’ll Be Some Changes Made”), Bert Kalmar (“Who’s Sorry Now?”), Ted Snyder (“Who’s Sorry Now?”), Frederick K. Tobias (“Take Off With Us – Three Pas De Deux”) and B.G. DeSylva (“Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”)

Replacements

Cast Replacements: Bebe Neuwirth (Apr 03, 2001 – May 27, 2001), Stephanie Pope, Ann Reinking (Mar 02, 2001 – Apr 27, 2001 / Jul 02, 2001 – Jul 07, 2001 / Aug 17, 2001 – Aug 18, 2001), Ben Vereen (Jan 26, 2001 – Apr 01, 2001 / May 28, 2001 – Aug 25, 2001), Edwaard Liang, Ken Alan, Mark Arvin, Ashley Bachner, Julio Bocca, Lynne Calamia, Angel Creeks, Dylis Croman, Rick Delancy, Keith Diorio, Bryn Dowling, Byron Easley, Parker Esse, Aaron Felske, Christopher Gattelli, Meg Gillentine, Greg Graham, Anne Hawthorne, Curtis Holbrook, Terace Jones, Laurie Kanyok, James Kinney, Matt Loehr (from Aug 2000), Julio Monge, Sharon Moore, Kathryn Mowat Murphy, Jill Nicklaus, Lacy Darryl Phillips, Jody Reynard, Josh Rhodes, Reva Rice, Keith Roberts (Jan 18, 2000 – Feb 13, 2000 / from Mar 28, 2000) and Jenny-Lynn Suckling.

Replacement Swings: J.P. Christensen, Francesca Harper, Suzanne Harrer, Robin Lewis, Marc Oka (Swing), Mark C. Reis, Tracy Terstriep and Christopher Windom.

Other Replacements: Company Manager: Suzanne Prueter; Production Stage Manager: Marybeth Abel; 1st Assistant Stage Manager: Bryan Landrine; Assistant Stage Manager: Chris Jamros and Andrew Neal; Stage Manager: Erica Schwartz; Associate Tech. Dir: Guy Kwan; Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions; Casting: Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter and Howard Meltzer; Dance Captain: Bill Burns and Angel Creeks; Assistant to General Manager: Bill Klemm

The Broadway theatre supersite Buy Broadway OnlineAs Founder and CEO of Theatre.com and BuyBroadway.com.  The pioneer in moving the Broadway industry onto the internet. The theatre press branded me as “Toby is the man pushing theatre, kicking and screaming, into cyberspace.” What started in 1989 as a Broadway industry service called ShowCall via dialup BBS for members of the League of American Theatre Producers evolved onto the world wide web in the early 90’s, and shortly after this, the vast majority of Broadway shows (starting with my production of Victor/Victoria) and theatrical organizations followed. The “Super site of Broadway” became a publicly traded company, prior to my re-branding it as Theatre.com at the Minskoff Theatre.

The global theater supersite theatre.comDescribed by Variety Magazine as a “marketing powerhouse“, it was the single largest theatre community in the world with over 180,000 active members (in the 1990’s this was massive). From buying official Broadway tickets and souvenirs, providing detailed global show listings, interactive show study & educational guides, live streaming shows and events (including many Opening Nights live broadcasts), industry news from major theatre journalists, pictures and videos, games, messaging directly to Broadway cast’s backstage or even licensing a musical, theatre.com offered it all in a single, easy-to-use interface to theatregoers globally.

Toby Awards Trophy Sergio Trujillotoby awards
In 2005, Sergio Trujillo and then in 2008, Ann Reinking were each the recipients of a Toby Award.

Click for details.

This 1999 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical journeys through the career of iconic dance/choreography legend Bob Fosse. It includes dance and musical numbers from The Pajama GameRedheadSweet CharityChicagoPippinDamn Yankees and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Fosse Broadway Girl Poster  FOSSE 1999 Broadway playbill billing FOSSE 1999 Broadway playbill cover FOSSE 1999 Broadway ad dance steps FOSSE 1999 Broadway poster winner  FOSSE 1999 Broadway poster ass FOSSE 1999 Broadway poster hand FOSSE 1999 Broadway poster block FOSSE 1999 Tour poster FOSSE 1999 Broadway poster tallFOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 06 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 10 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 07 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 02 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 01 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 05 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 04 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 03FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 19 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 01 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 25 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 24 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 02 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 06 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 13 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 09 FOSSE 1999 Broadway souvenir book 11Fosse Broadway Program www Fosse Broadway e1617722080545FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 23 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 22 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 21 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 20 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 11 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 08 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 04 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 15 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 10 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 17 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 03 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 05 FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo scene 18FOSSE 1999 Broadway photo studio FOSSE 1999 Broadway venue marquee 01intheater magazine

Big Spender, Rich Man’s Frug, Bye Bye Blackbird, Montage, Sing Sing Sing (Tony Awards) and tour commercial from Chicago

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MUSICAL NUMBERS

ACT ONE:

Prologue:

(1) “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” (George White’s Scandals of 1931, lyric by Lew Brown, music by Ray Henderson; later in Fosse’s 1986 musical Big Deal) (Valarie Pettiford);

(2) “Fosse’s World” (sequence staged by Ann Reinking): “Calypso” (music by G. Harrell), “Snake in the Grass” (1974 film The Little Prince; lyric by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe), and “dance elements” and “signature Fosse styles” (which appeared in various musicals choreographed by Fosse) (Brad Musgrove, Jane Lanier, Company); and

(3) “Bye, Bye, Blackbird” (1926 song; lyric by Mort Dixon, music by Ray Henderson; later in Fosse’s 1972 television special Liza with a “Z”) (Valarie Pettiford, Julio Agustin, Andy Blankenbuehler, Marc Calamia, Holly Cruikshank, Lisa Gajda, Scott Jovovich, Dede LaBarre, Mary Ann Lamb, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Dana Moore, Elizabeth Parkinson, Michael Paternostro, Rachelle Rak, Desmond Richardson, Lainie Sakakura, Sergio Trujillo);

Part One:

(1) “From the Edge” (Dancin’, 1978) (music by G. Harrell) (Brad Anderson, Christopher R. Kirby, Alex Sanchez);

(2) “Percussion 4” (Dancin’, 1978) (music by G. Harrell) (Desmond Richardson);

(3) “Big Spender” (Sweet Charity, 1966; lyric by Dorothy Fields, music by Cy Coleman) (Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Kim Morgan Greene, Dede LaBarre, Mary Ann Lamb, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Dana Moore, Elizabeth Parkinson, Rachelle Rak); and

(4) “Crunchy Granola Suite” (Dancin’, 1978; lyric and music by Neil Diamond) (Julio Agustin, Marc Calami, Holly Cruikshank, Lisa Gajda, Scott Jovovich, Christopher R. Kirby, Dede LaBarre, Mary Ann Lamb, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Elizabeth Parkinson, Michael Paternostro, Desmond Richardson, Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez; Singers: Brad Anderson and Eugene Fleming);

Part Two:

(1) Transition: “Hooray for Hollywood” (1937 film Hollywood Hotel, lyric by Johnny Mercer, music by Richard A. Whiting);

(2)”From This Moment On” (cut from 1950 musical Out of This World and interpolated into 1953 film version of Kiss Me, Kate; lyric and music by Cole Porter) (Mary Ann Lamb, evenings; Lainie Sakakura, matinees; Andy Blankenbuehler);

(3) “Alley Dance” (“Got No Room for Mr. Gloom,” 1955 film My Sister Eileen; lyric by Leo Robin, music by Jule Styne) (Scott Wise, evenings; Brad Musgrove, matinees; Scott Jovovich);

(4) Transition: “Dance elements inspired” by Redhead, 1959 (music of “Walking the Cat” by Patrick S. Brady) (Julio Agustin, Holly Cruikshank, Dede LaBarre, Rachelle Rak, Desmond Richardson, Lainie Sakakura); and

(5) “I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man” (1952 film Belle of New York, lyric by Johnny Mercer, music by Harry Warren; later in Dancin’, 1978) (Eugene Fleming, Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Scott Wise, Brad Anderson, Andy Blankenbuehler, Marc Calamia, Lisa Gajda, Kim Morgan Greene, Christopher R. Kirby, Mary Ann Lamb, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Dana Moore, Brad Musgrove, Elizabeth Parkinson, Alex Sanchez, Sergio Trujillo)

ACT TWO:

Part Three:

(1) “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo.” (Damn Yankees, 1955; lyric and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) (Julio Agustin, Brad Anderson, Andy Blankenbuehler, Marc Calamia, Eugene Fleming, Christopher R. Kirby, Alex Sanchez, Sergio Trujillo, Michael Paternostro, Scott Wise; Pitcher: Alex Sanchez; Batters: Brad Anderson and Scott Wise; Bunter: Julio Agustin);

(2) Transition: Dance elements inspired by New Girl in Town, 1957) (Alex Sanchez);

(3) “Nightclubs—The Dance Team of Bob Fosse and Mary Ann Niles”: “Dancing in the Dark” (The Band Wagon, 1931; lyric by Howard Dietz, music by Arthur Schwartz);

(4) “I Love a Piano” (Stop! Look! Listen!, 1915; lyric and music by Irving Berlin; sequence inspired by Fosse/Niles or Fosse appearances on various television shows during the period 1949–1956; staged by Ann Reinking) (Scott Wise, Elizabeth Parkinson, Scott Jovovich, Lainie Sakakura, Andy Blankenbuehler, Jane Lanier, Michael Paternoster, Alex Sanchez, Julio Agustin, Brad Anderson, Marc Calamia, Holly Cruikshank, Dede LaBarre, Mary Ann Lamb, Mary MacLeod, Sergio Trujillo; Singers: Shannon Lewis and Rachelle Rak);

(5) “Steam Heat” (The Pajama Game, 1954; lyric and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) (Jane Lanier, Michael Paternoster, Alex Sanchez);

(6) “I Gotcha” (1972 television special Liza with a “Z”; lyric and music by Joseph Arrington Jr., aka Joe Tex) (Shannon Lewis, Brad Musgrove, Christopher R. Kirby);

(7) “The Rich Man’s Frug”—Part One: “The Aloof”; Part Two: “The Heavyweight”; and Part Three: “The Big Finish” (Sweet Charity, 1966; music by Cy Coleman) (Lisa Gajda, Brad Musgrove, and Andy Blankenbuehler with Julio Agustin, Brad Anderson, Marc Calamia, Holly Cruikshank, Scott Jovovich, Christopher R. Kirby, Dede LaBarre, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Rachelle Rak, Lainie Sakakura, Sergio Trujillo);

(8) Transition: “Silky Thoughts” (music by Patrick S. Brady);

(9) “Cool Hand Luke” (dance for 1968 television special; music by Lalo Schifrin) (Elizabeth Parkinson, Desmond Richardson, Christopher R. Kirby);

(10) Transition: “Big Noise from Winnetka” (lyric by Bob Crosby and Gil Rodin, music by Ray Bauduc and Bob Haggart; later in Dancin’, 1978);

(11) “Dancin’ Dan” (sequence includes “Me and My Shadow,” lyric by Billy Rose and Al Jolson, music by Dave Dreyer; later in Big Deal, 1986) (Eugene Fleming, Kim Morgan Greene, Dana Moore); and

(12) “Nowadays” (Chicago, 1975; lyric by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander) and “The Hot Honey Rag” (Chicago, 1996 revival; music by John Kander) (Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier)

ACT THREE:

Part Four:

(1) “Glory” (Pippin, 1972; lyric and music by Stephen Schwartz) (Christopher R. Kirby, Julio Agustin, Brad Anderson, Andy Blankenbuehler, Marc Calamia, Scott Jovovich, Mary Ann Lamb, Brad Musgrove, Elizabeth Parkinson, Michael Paternostro, Lainie Sakakura, Alex Sanchez; Singer: Eugene Fleming);

(2) “Manson Trio” (Pippin, 1972; music by Stephen Schwartz) (Eugene Fleming, Dede LaBarre, Mary MacLeod);

(3) “Mein Herr” (1972 film Cabaret; lyric by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander) (Valarie Pettiford, Holly Cruikshank, Lisa Gajda, Kim Morgan Greene, Shannon Lewis, Dana Moore, Rachelle Rak);

(4) “Take Off with Us”—Three Pas de Deux (1979 film All That Jazz; lyric by Frederick K. aka Fred Tobias, music by Stanley R. Lebowsky) (Marc Calamia and Lainie Sakakura, Mary Ann Lamb and Elizabeth Parkinson, Brad Musgrove and Desmond Richardson);

(5) “Razzle Dazzle” (Chicago, 1975; lyric by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander) (Scott Wise, Kim Morgan Greene, Dana Moore);

(6) “Who’s Sorry Now?” (lyric by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, music by Ted Snyder; used in 1979 film All That Jazz) (Holly Cruikshank, Lisa Gajda, Dede LaBarre, Mary Ann Lamb, Shannon Lewis, Mary MacLeod, Elizabeth Parkinson, Rachelle Rak, Lainie Sakakura);

(7) “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” (lyric by Billy Higgins, music by W. Benton Overstreet; used in 1979 film All That Jazz) (Jane Lanier, Kim Morgan Greene, Dana Moore);

(8) “Mr. Bojangles” (Dancin’, 1978; lyric and music by Jerry Jeff Walker) (Singer: Andy Blankenbuehler; Dancers: Mr. Bojangles—Sergio Trujillo and The Spirit—Desmond Richardson); and

(9) “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” (reprise) (Valarie Pettiford);

Part Five:

“Sing, Sing, Sing” (lyric and music by Louis Prima; used in Dancin’, 1978; includes “Christopher Columbus” sequence, lyric by Andy Razaf and music by Leon Barry) (Company; Drums: Perry Cavari; Bass: Mike Hall; Trombone Solo: James Pugh; Dancers: Holly Cruikshank, Christopher R. Kirby, Desmond Richardson; Trumpet Solo: Glenn Drews; Dancer: Elizabeth Parkinson; Clarinet Solo: Walt Weiskoph; Dancers: Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Mary MacLeod, Dana Moore, Kim Morgan Greene, Mary Ann Lamb, Rachelle Rak, Julio Agustin, Brad Anderson, Marc Calamia, Christopher R. Kirby, Alex Sanchez, Sergio Trujillo, Michael Paternoster; Piano Solo: Jonathan Werking; Dancers: Scott Wise, Eugene Fleming)

headshot bob fosseBob Fosse

Born: June 23, 1927 and Died: September 23, 1987

Key shows “BELLS ARE RINGING”; “BIG DEAL”; “CHICAGO”; “DAMN YANKEES”; “LITTLE ME”; “NEW GIRL IN TOWN”; “THE PAJAMA GAME”; “PIPPIN”; “REDHEAD” and “SWEET CHARITY”

Director-choreographer Bob Fosse forever changed the way audiences around the world viewed dance on the stage and in the film industry in the late 20th century. Visionary, intense, and unbelievably driven, Fosse was an artist whose work was always provocative, entertaining, and quite unlike anything ever before seen. His dances were sexual, physically demanding of even the most highly trained dancers, full of joyous humor as well as bleak cynicism — works that addressed the full range of human emotions. Through his films he revolutionized the presentation of dance on screen and paved the way for a whole generation of film and video directors, showing dance through the camera lens as no one had done before, foreshadowing the rise of the MTV-era of music video dance.

Robert Louis Fosse was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 23, 1927. Bob was the youngest of six children and quickly learned to win attention from his family through his dancing. It was not long before he was recognized as a child prodigy. His parents sent him to formal lessons, where he immersed himself in tap dancing. A small boy who suffered from nagging health problems, he nevertheless was so dedicated that by the time he reached high school, he was already dancing professionally in area nightclubs as part of their sleazy vaudeville and burlesque shows. The sexually free atmosphere of these clubs and the strippers with whom Fosse was in constant contact made a strong impression on him. Fascinated with vaudeville’s dark humor and teasing sexual tones, he would later develop these themes in his adult work. After high school, Fosse enlisted in the Navy in 1945. Shortly after he arrived at boot camp, V-J day was declared, and World War II officially came to an end. Fosse completed his two-year duty and moved to New York City.

For the next seven years, Fosse went through two rocky marriages with dancers Mary Ann Niles and Joan McCracken, all the while performing in variety shows on stage and on television. He had a few minor Broadway chorus parts, but his big break came with his brief appearance in the 1953 MGM movie musical KISS ME, KATE. Fosse caught the immediate attention of two of Broadway’s acknowledged masters: George Abbott and Jerome Robbins.

Fosse’s first fully choreographed show was 1954’s “THE PAJAMA GAME.” Directed by Abbott, the show made Fosse an overnight success and showcased his trademark choreographic style: sexually suggestive forward hip-thrusts; the vaudeville humor of hunched shoulders and turned-in feet; the amazing, mime-like articulation of hands. He often dressed his dancers in black and put them in white gloves and derbies, recalling the image of Charlie Chaplin. He incorporated all the tricks of vaudeville that he had learned — pratfalls, slights-of-hand, double takes. Fosse received the first of his many Tony Awards for Best Choreography for “THE PAJAMA GAME.”

His next musical, “DAMN YANKEES,” brought more awards and established his life-long creative collaboration with Gwen Verdon, who had the starring role. With her inspiration, Fosse created a stream of classic dances. By 1960, Fosse was a nationally known and respected choreographer, married to Verdon (by then a beloved Broadway star) and father to their child Nicole. Yet Fosse struggled with many of his producers and directors, who wished him to tone down or remove the “controversial” parts of his dances. Tired of subverting his artistic vision for the sake of “being proper,” Fosse realized that he needed to be the director as well as the choreographer in order to have control over his dances.

His dances were sexual, physically demanding of even the most highly trained dancers. From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, Fosse created a number of ground-breaking stage musicals and films. These works reflected the desire for sexual freedom that was being expressed across America and were huge successes as a result. Before Fosse, dance was always filmed either in a front-facing or overhead view. In his 1969 film version of SWEET CHARITY (Fosse’s 1966 stage version was based on an earlier movie by Italian director Federico Fellini, about a prostitute’s search for love; the film was commissioned by Universal Studios after the success of the stage version) and in later works, Fosse introduced unique perspective shots and jump cuts. These film and editing techniques would become standard practice for music video directors decades later.

His 1972 film CABARET was based on Christopher Isherwood’s stories of pre-Weimar Germany. Articles on the film appeared in all the major magazines. Photos appeared on the covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK. The film was Fosse’s biggest public success and won eight Academy Awards. Fosse’s “PIPPIN” (1972) became the highest earning Broadway show in history, as well as the first Broadway show to advertise on national television. “PIPPIN” was awarded five Tony Awards for the 1972-73 season, one of them given to Fosse for best direction and choreography. Fosse staged and choreographed a variety show special for NBC starring Liza Minnelli, LIZA WITH A Z, which brought Fosse an Emmy Award and made him the first person to ever win top honors in three entertainment mediums — stage, film, and television.

Two stage musicals followed: “CHICAGO” (1975) and “DANCIN’” (1978). During rehearsals for “CHICAGO,” Fosse suffered a heart attack. He survived and used much of that traumatic experience in 1979 in his semiautobiographical dance film ALL THAT JAZZ. Two other films, LENNY (1974) and STAR 80 (1983), were not the popular successes that his other shows had been. “BIG DEAL,” Fosse’s last musical, was also poorly received. After a rehearsal for the revival of “SWEET CHARITY,” Fosse suffered a massive heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. Fosse’s contribution to American entertainment continued after his death via show revivals and dance classes. His most prominent contribution was through the body of his work recorded on film and video.

Source: Excerpted from ST. JAMES ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR CULTURE. 5 VOLS., St. James Press
© 2000 St. James Press. Reprinted by permission of The Gale Group.

Just for related fun, my COVID-19 parody of FOSSE in May 2022 in Shanghai Lockdown 

Fosse COVID 19 Shanghai 2022 reimagined Poster

See over 100 more of my Broadway Parodies or my 75 Shanghai Lockdown parodies.

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