Episode 46: Pippin Part 2 (Fossepocalypse #8.5)

Pippin

Sing and dance for Bob Fosse and all they remember is an 80s tv show

Jazz Hams! We’re back!

We apologize for missing last week. The new every-other-week schedule collided with CONvergence (Windy’s annual bacchanalia) and the bacchanalia won.

We continue our discussion of PIPPIN – both its place in the Fosse oeuvre, and the particularities and peculiarities of the “movie” version we watched. It’s amazing that Fosse gave up enough control to someone else for this to happen. Naturally, he regretted it.

William: “I don’t understand the editing.”
Ben: “Bob is gonna lose his mind!”

When you’re extraordinary, you listen to an extraordinary episode!  Take a listen!

Pippin: His Life and Times (1981)
Pippin: His Life and Times poster Rating: 7.7/10 (410 votes)
Director: David Sheehan
Writer: N/A
Stars: Ben Vereen, William Katt, Leslie Denniston, Benjamin Rayson
Runtime: 112 min
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: History, Musical, Romance, War
Released: N/A
Plot: At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.

Episode 45: Pippin Part 1 (Fossepocalypse #8)

The Greatest American Showtunes

The Fossepocalypse continues!

As we begin our new bi-weekly schedule, we complete Fosse’s 1973 trifecta of drug-induced creativity:  PIPPIN.

Neither Mike nor Vinnie had ever seen or even really heard of this show until Windy came along with her Fossetastic ways. Even with building up to the show by watching Fosse’s works in chronological order, PIPPIN is still breathtaking in its balls-out bonkersness.

Ben Vereen is the only major name from the original cast in this made-for-television recording, and his slithery performance anchors the show. William Katt (!) takes over for John Rubinstein in the titular role and does a credible job, but it doesn’t really matter because this is a show for the chorus and the Leading Player.

Join us!  Come and waste an hour and take a listen!

Will Rogers Follies
(skip to 3:56 for the bit that is similar to “War is a Science”)

Magic to Do at the 1973 Tony Awards

Pippin: His Life and Times (1981)
Pippin: His Life and Times poster Rating: 7.7/10 (410 votes)
Director: David Sheehan
Writer: N/A
Stars: Ben Vereen, William Katt, Leslie Denniston, Benjamin Rayson
Runtime: 112 min
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: History, Musical, Romance, War
Released: N/A
Plot: At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.

New Release Schedule!

Jazz Hands

It’s all jazz squares and jetes until someone gets hurt

Citizens of Jazzhandia!

As we approach finishing our first year (!) of podcasting showtunes and shenanigans, the jazz hams in charge of this piece of the internet need to slow down a bit.

So we are moving to a bi-weekly schedule.

The Fossepocalypse will continue next week with Episode 45 (Fossepocalypse #8) PIPPIN.

Have some thoughts or feelings about this? Express yourself in gif form only in the comments!

Episode 44: Liza with a Z (Fossepocalypse #7)

Liza with a Z

I mean, yeah.

The Fossepocalypse is lingering at the apex of Fosse’s GOT year (Grammy-Oscar-Tony) as Windy shows Mike and Vinnie the television special LIZA WITH A Z.

After SWEET CHARITY flopped, Fosse feared he would never work again and started lining up projects as fast as he could get someone to say “yes” – each one the back-up plan to the other. He got the idea for a one-night-only television special watching Liza rehearse all-out during the filming of CABARET and wanted to capture the transient excitement and energy of performing.

Liza had been performing cabarets and concerts for years, and many of the songs here were staples of her repertoire that Kander & Ebb had written especially for her.  Fosse added back-up dancers and his signature choreography, as well as his directorial vision lending an almost documentary feel.

If you’ve never seen Liza at the height of her powers, or (like Windy) have seen her in movies but never in a live concert setting – you’ve never really understood the power of Ms. Minelli.

Take a listen and Ring Them Bells with us!

The whole show is on Youtube here!

P.S. Keep your eyes peeled to spot Ann Reinking as a back-up dancer!

Liza with a Z (1972)
Liza with a Z poster Rating: 8.6/10 (503 votes)
Director: Bob Fosse
Writer: Fred Ebb
Stars: Liza Minnelli
Runtime: 55 min
Rated: N/A
Genre: Music
Released: 10 Sep 1972
Plot: Liza Minnelli stars in a television concert directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. She performs such songs as the title number, "Liza with a 'Z'" and "Son of a Preacher Man". The concert ...

Episode 43: Cabaret Part 2 (Fossepocalypse #6.5)

, with special guest:
Cabaret

“Professor, your wife is dancing on the table again.”

Welcome back to our discussion of CABARET, with our stunt film virgin Jenny providing her insights, while Mike and Vinnie discover a deeper appreciation for the film.

CABARET marks the end of Fosse and Verdon’s marriage, although they never divorced. (This particular point in their relationship is captured beautifully, and performed masterfully, in the miniseries FOSSE/VERDON.) It’s also where Fosse dreamed up the television special LIZA WITH A Z while watching Liza Minnelli dance and sing at 110% for every take.

CABARET would have been enough for Fosse to make his mark, and establish him as a bona fide artist – but pairing it with the Emmy for LIZA WITH A Z and the Tony for PIPPIN all in the same year crowned Fosse as a phenomenon.

Wilkommen! Come taste the wine, and take a listen to our thoughts on CABARET.

Cabaret (1972)
Cabaret poster Rating: 7.8/10 (43,792 votes)
Director: Bob Fosse
Writer: Joe Masteroff (based on the musical play "Cabaret" book by), John Van Druten (based on the play by), Christopher Isherwood (stories), Jay Presson Allen (screenplay)
Stars: Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Joel Grey
Runtime: 124 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Drama, Musical
Released: 13 Feb 1972
Plot: A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

Episode 42: Cabaret Part 1 (Fossepocalypse #6.5)

, with special guest:
Cabaret

Because “life is a depressing hellhole” didn’t fit the music cue

Listeners, the Fossepocalypse continues with (arguably) the high point of Fosse’s film career – CABARET.

Since all three of your hosts have seen this film before, we brought in our frequent stunt virgin Jenny. Jenny’s thoughts and reactions alone are worth a listen, but of course we’ve also got Mike making connections to SWEET CHARITY and Vinnie questioning what the fuck was wrong with the 70s while Windy tries to keep an accurate catalog of the drugs that fueled Fosse’s incredibly prolific – and award winning – year.

Liza Minnelli loved working with Fosse so much that they created the idea of the tv special “Liza with a Z” on the set of CABARET. Michael York has said it was the best acting experience of his career. Producer Cy Feuer wanted to murder Fosse before it was done.

So, your usual Fosse project.

So, come inside where life is beautiful and take a listen as we taste the wine, blow the horn, and celebrate CABARET.

 

Cabaret

Young Joel Grey says, “Welcome” and I say, “Hellooo, nurse!”

 

Fosse winning Best Director

Cabaret (1972)
Cabaret poster Rating: 7.8/10 (43,792 votes)
Director: Bob Fosse
Writer: Joe Masteroff (based on the musical play "Cabaret" book by), John Van Druten (based on the play by), Christopher Isherwood (stories), Jay Presson Allen (screenplay)
Stars: Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Joel Grey
Runtime: 124 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Drama, Musical
Released: 13 Feb 1972
Plot: A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

Episode 41: Sweet Charity Part 2 (Fossepocalypse #5.5)

Sweet Charity

Boy, those practically-prostitutes sure are wholesome and kooky!

Jazz hams, we continue our deep dive into the decadent depravity of Fosse with part two of our discussion of SWEET CHARITY.

While this was Fosse’s film directing debut, he was unafraid to experiment and found a willing accomplice in his cinematographer, Robert Surtees. The two of them created a visually striking film that critics adored – and audiences hated.

Gwen Verdon was on set assisting with choreography and coaching Shirley MacLaine in the role – a generous and classy move since Charity was created for Gwen by Bob. Watching Shirley in the role, you can almost see Gwen overlaid in the performance, particularly the dancing.

Shirley performing “I’m a Brass Band” in the movie

Gwen performing “I’m a Brass Band” on the Ed Sullivan show

Christina Applegate performing “I’m a Brass Band” Macy’s Parade

If you still haven’t watched SWEET CHARITY, you’ve never seen Shirley MacLaine dancing Bob Fosse and that means you’re missing out. There ain’t nothing better than this – so check it out!

Sweet Charity (1969)
Sweet Charity poster Rating: 7.0/10 (4,265 votes)
Director: Bob Fosse
Writer: Neil Simon (from the New York stage production book by), Federico Fellini (based upon the screenplay by: "Nights of Cabiria"), Tullio Pinelli (based upon the screenplay by: "Nights of Cabiria"), Ennio Flaiano (based upon the screenplay by: "Nights of Cabiria"), Peter Stone (screenplay)
Stars: Shirley MacLaine, John McMartin, Ricardo Montalban, Sammy Davis Jr.
Runtime: 149 min
Rated: G
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music, Musical, Romance
Released: 17 May 1969
Plot: Taxi dancer Charity continues to have Faith in the human race despite apparently endless disappointments at its hands, and Hope that she will finally meet the nice young man to romance her ...

Episode 40: Sweet Charity Part 1 (Fossepocalypse #5)

Sweet Charity

The poster makes the movie look weirdly…wholesome

Listeners, this week is a real treat – Vinnie and Mike watch Fosse’s film directing debut SWEET CHARITY for the first time ever!

This musical was Gwen Verdon’s combined “come back” and “swan song” – she had taken time off to have a child with Bob and be a mother, and at 41 wanted one last big starring vehicle on Broadway, before she got too old (crazily enough, this was NOT her last big starring Broadway vehicle. That would come nine years later with CHICAGO). By the time the studios wanted a film version – three years later in 1969 – Gwen was too old for a film version of the role and instead generously coached Shirley MacLaine on the role.

Shirley MacLaine – discovered while understudying for Carol Haney in PAJAMA GAME – was a huge star by the point, and used her influence to get Fosse his first gig helming a movie.  Cinematographer Robert Surtees found himself with a director eager to learn and willing to try anything and everything, and the result is Fosse all over.

So, spend a little time with us as we gush about SWEET CHARITY!

Sweet Charity (1969)
Sweet Charity poster Rating: 7.0/10 (4,265 votes)
Director: Bob Fosse
Writer: Neil Simon (from the New York stage production book by), Federico Fellini (based upon the screenplay by: "Nights of Cabiria"), Tullio Pinelli (based upon the screenplay by: "Nights of Cabiria"), Ennio Flaiano (based upon the screenplay by: "Nights of Cabiria"), Peter Stone (screenplay)
Stars: Shirley MacLaine, John McMartin, Ricardo Montalban, Sammy Davis Jr.
Runtime: 149 min
Rated: G
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music, Musical, Romance
Released: 17 May 1969
Plot: Taxi dancer Charity continues to have Faith in the human race despite apparently endless disappointments at its hands, and Hope that she will finally meet the nice young man to romance her ...

Episode 39: Damn Yankees, Part 2 (Fossepocalypse #4.5)

Damn Yankees

She gets hotter everytime I look at her

Fine folk of Jazzhandia, this week we wrap up DAMN YANKEES with part two of our episode. Part two is pretty much all Gwen-love.

Gwen was Jack Cole’s star dancer who – like Fosse – gave up on being a movie star and headed to Broadway where she made a big splash almost instantly.

DAMN YANKEES was her first starring role, and it’s a doozy! Lola is arguably the best character in the show, played with heart and depth by our favorite sassy redhead.

This movie would be Gwen’s only major film role, and the only time she and Fosse would dance together on film.

Take a listen!

Who’s Got the Pain?

Damn Yankees (1958)
Damn Yankees poster Rating: 7.2/10 (2,106 votes)
Director: George Abbott, Stanley Donen
Writer: George Abbott (screenplay), George Abbott (book), Douglass Wallop (book), Douglass Wallop (novel)
Stars: Tab Hunter, Gwen Verdon, Ray Walston, Russ Brown
Runtime: 111 min
Rated: APPROVED
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance, Sport
Released: 04 Jan 1959
Plot: A frustrated fan of the hopeless Washington Senators makes a pact with the Devil to help the baseball team win the league pennant.

Episode 38: Damn Yankees (Fossepocalypse #4)

Damn Yankees

Gwen Verdon…DAMN, son

Jazz Hams! This week’s episode is the exact same production team delivering the goods – yet again – in DAMN YANKEES. This time with a heaping helping of Gwen Verdon!

(SIDENOTE: Mike’s mic has a weird echo and we do apologize for the odd audio – it eventually corrects.)

Jack Warner made a two-picture deal with George Abbott to bring THE PAJAMA GAME and DAMN YANKEES to the screen faithfully from Broadway (with the help of the inimitable Stanley Donen of the Freed Unit). And god bless him, because this is the only film performance we have of Gwen Verdon at the height of her substantial powers.

Neither Mike nor Vinnie had seen this before, so this was a revelation to both, and a good compare/contrast to THE PAJAMA GAME.

With such classics as “Heart,” “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo,” and (of course) “Whatever Lola Wants,” DAMN YANKEES won’t bring the pain – we promise!

Damn Yankees

I’ve got a pain just looking at that move. Also – Verdon & Fosse together!

Damn Yankees (1958)
Damn Yankees poster Rating: 7.2/10 (2,106 votes)
Director: George Abbott, Stanley Donen
Writer: George Abbott (screenplay), George Abbott (book), Douglass Wallop (book), Douglass Wallop (novel)
Stars: Tab Hunter, Gwen Verdon, Ray Walston, Russ Brown
Runtime: 111 min
Rated: APPROVED
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance, Sport
Released: 04 Jan 1959
Plot: A frustrated fan of the hopeless Washington Senators makes a pact with the Devil to help the baseball team win the league pennant.