Episode 54: Broadway Revue FOSSE, Part 2 (Fossepocalypse Bonus Round)

Fosse Revue

Hat? CHECK. Slouch? CHECK. Flexed hand? CHECK. Awkward body position? CHECK.

Jazz Hams! The Fossepocalypse is finally over!

(No more roving bands of cannibalistic jazz dancers. No more Death by Jazz Hands. No more Broadway Thunderdome. (Damn, that’s a thing I really want now.))

Join us as we finish talking about the 2002 revue FOSSE, which is also a review of our previous months of immersion in the evolution of the Fosse style. We have definite opinions about which numbers lived up to the originals, which dancers delivered the goods, and which dancers can pick up their plane ticket home.

If you want even more Fosse, the FX miniseries FOSSE/VERDON is spectacular. And Windy highly recommends the Fosse biography by Sam Wasson.

This may be the end of this particular project, but join us for our next episode as we wade into uncharted waters!

Fosse

Fosse watches over us. Judging. Always judging.

Episode 53: Broadway Revue FOSSE, Part 1 (Fossepocalypse Bonus Round)

Fosse Revue

The original Broadway poster shows you everything you need to know

We’re back, Jazz Hams, with our final Fossepocalypse – the bonus round viewing of the Broadway revue FOSSE!

This 1999 revue won the Tony for Best Musical that year. Originally conceived by Chet Walker (a regular dance captain for Fosse), the show toured out of town through most of 1998. The full credits are: “The musical was directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Ann Reinking, with original choreography by Bob Fosse. The co-choreographer was Ann Reinking, with choreography re-creations by Chet Walker and dance reconstructions by Lainie Sakakura and Brad Musgrove with Gwen Verdon as artistic advisor.”

Trivia:  HAMILTON choreographer Andy Blankenbauer was in the original Broadway cast!

This production was filmed as part of PBS Great Performances in 2002 with Ann and Ben Vereen stepping into a few numbers to add sexy star appeal.  (Sadly, Ben doesn’t move the way he used to, but he’s still got all that charisma!)

If you’re a fan of Fosse, seek out this DVD to see little-known pieces (like the “Cool Hand Luke” trio) beautifully recreated. It’s also a chance to see familiar pieces in a new light (or see parts you’ve never seen before because of Fosse’s editing style!).

There is no IMDB entry for this one, folks.

 

 

Episode 52: All That Jazz, Part 2 (Fossepocalypse #11.5)

All That Jazz

It’s showtime, folks!

This is is, Jazz Hams.

The official conclusion of the Fossepocalypse.  (There will be one bonus round after this, but the musical filmography of Mr. Bob Fosse ends here.)

We discuss John Lithgow as Michael Bennet stand in, the weird head canon of Richard Dreyfuss as Joe Gideon, and the producing shenanigans pulled to get this film over the finish line.

All That Jazz

You wanna stop filming before you see THIS?

The film ended up with a slew of Oscar noms, including a Best Actor nom for Roy Scheider, but didn’t win any of the big awards. It did tie for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, though (with a Kurosawa film). (Wrap your head around that!)

Join us as we celebrate a terrific entertainer, not much of a humanitarian, and a very complicated friend!

All That Jazz

The pinnacle of Fossedom

 

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Episode 51: All That Jazz, Part 1 (Fossepocalypse #11)

All That Jazz

Fosse writing and directing the life of Fosse is the most Fosse thing ever

The Fossepocalypse nears its ultimate denouement as we watch Fosse’s autobiographical masterpiece ALL THAT JAZZ.

The movie stands on its own (boy howdy, does it) but oh the layers when you know your Fosse work and history!  The egotistical frustrations of making PIPPIN a Fosse show, the insanity of creating a Broadway show while editing a movie, the complications of directing your wife and lover while sleeping with the rest of the cast…Fosse’s cinematic version of himself was unflinchingly honest and ugly.

And yet.

We see the truly loving father, the honest terror of trying to create, the lingering trauma of sexual assault.  Casting Roy Scheider was yet another genius move on Fosse’s part.  Scheider’s innate warmth keeps us invested at even the most hateful self-centered moments.

All That Jazz

“Keep your relationship entanglements over there, just send in the drugs!”

 

Beyond the autobiographical, this is one of the best “backstage musical” movies ever made. In the opening audition sequence, Fosse captures life upon and behind the wicked stage with all the brutal sweat and short-lived hopes, and also shows us the shallow maneuvering the often happens behind the scenes and before the artistry. It’s also a morality tale on the costs of art – the metaphor of “creating art is like giving birth” has never been so honestly bloody and painful.

And it’s funny and sexy.  So, “take off with us!”  And enjoy this week’s episode!

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Episode 50: Chicago Part 2 (Fossepocalypse #10.5)

Chicago

The original Broadway poster. Surprisingly subtle.

Welcome back to the Fossepocalypse, Jazzhandians, with the capital city located in CHICAGO.

This week’s conclusion discusses Little Mary Sunshine, Renee Zellweger as a puppet, and the showstopping Catherine Z-J. We give a lot of love to John C. Reilly as Amos (deservedly so), the slick confidence and tapping prowess of Richard Gere, and the *chef’s kiss* costumes of Colleen Atwood.

CHICAGO was a dream project for Gwen (and Bob back when it was Gwen-and-Bob). In true Fosse fashion, Bob was also working on the film LENNY while creating the show – and this was the beginning of severe health problems (not one but TWO heart attacks during this period). CHICAGO was shut out at the Tonys by Michael Bennett’s A CHORUS LINE – I think we can guess how Bob felt about Michael after that.

Don’t leave us hanging like Mr. Cellophane – take a listen!

CHICAGO

Reason #5,674 why we need a time machine – to see this for ourselves!

 

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Episode 49: Chicago (Fossepocalypse #10) Part 1

Chicago

Featuring from left to right: Amazing, Surprising, and Her

Listen up, you jazz babies! This week’s episode is a classic of stage and screen – CHICAGO.

The original cast was titanic in talent: Gwen Verdon as Roxie, Chita Rivera as Velma, and Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn. The 1996 revival featured Bebe Neuwirth (yes, from Cheers) as Velma and Ann Reinking as Roxie (with Joel Grey as Amos and James Naughton as Billy).

Chicago

Ann: “I’m playing Gwen’s role. That’s not weird at all.”

And then Rob Marshall made his 2002 movie. His choreography is a tribute to Fosse. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a killer cool Velma, and Richard Gere is a surprisingly effective and conniving Billy.  John C. Reilly is a heartbreaking Amos. And Renee Zellweger is also in the film (Windy’s not a fan, but honestly – she’s not bad.  She’s just overshadowed by the others.)

If you’ve never seen it –  come on, babe, why don’t we paint the town?! And then take a listen!

1976 Tony Awards Performance – “All I Care About is Love” with Jerry Orbach

1996 Revival – Bebe Neuwirth “All That Jazz”

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Episode 48: The Little Prince (Fossepocalypse #9.5) Part 2

The Little Prince

Small children should definitely trust me. Just like Michael Jackson.

Welcome, listeners, to part two of our discussion of Fosse’s last dance performance on film, THE LITTLE PRINCE.

In this week’s episode, we delve into Fosse’s role and performance. Stanley Donen offered Fosse complete creative control to entice him to do the film (and it’s a testament to Donen’s sure hand at the helm that Fosse’s piece isn’t glaringly different). Fosse’s performance is the only record of Fosse doing Fosse – this is Fosse choreography at its most iconic, performed by the man himself.

Also included in this week’s episode is discussion (rampant squeeing) of Gene Wilder’s performance as the Fox. Gene is perfectly cast as the twitchy, exuberant, sensitive fox who teaches the Little Prince the most important lesson: it’s love that makes each of us unique and special.

A tender film overall, Fosse’s performance embodies his peculiarities and philosophy: in love with death, a consummate showman and huckster, but sincere and honest at heart.

Take a listen and be tamed!

The Little Prince

What do you mean the Fossepocalypse is almost over??!

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Episode 47: The Little Prince (Fossepocalypse #9) Part One

The Little Prince

Adorable tot meets a variety of Broadway stars

Jazz Hams!

We’re back and we’re back in the groove! (Every other week can get weirdly confusing, y’know?)

The Fossepocalypse will not be stopped and so this week we bring you Bob’s last dance performance on film – THE LITTLE PRINCE.

QUIZ TIME!
Director Stanley Donen (yep, that guy again) knew exactly who he wanted for the Snake in his film adaptation, and Bob said yes because…
a) His daughter wanted him to do the film
b) He only had two other projects going and was at a bit of a loss
c) He was on new drugs
d) All of the above

As any Fosse-phile knows (as well as you Jazzhandians), the answer can only be D!

Donen and Fosse had worked together on THE PAJAMA GAME and DAMN YANKEES, so Donen knew what he was in for with Bob, and Bob (for once) trusted the director to do it right – or close enough. (BeeTeeDubs, watching this shortly after DAMN YANKEES makes it abundantly clear that Donen did not direct YANKEES. Nothing that clunky came out of Donen.)

With music by Lerner and Lowe and a bevvy of Broadway stars, the music is lilting and sweet, and the child is adorable (and possibly in peril – he gets thrown around a lot).

You may not have ever met a rose, but take a listen and meet THE LITTLE PRINCE!

The Little Prince

Pilot: “Did Bob offer you drugs too?”
Prince: “…mmmmaybe”

 

Richard Kiley’s velvety voice singing “The Night of My Nights” from KISMET

Richard Kiley, the original Don Quixote, sings “The Impossible Dream”

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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!

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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

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