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Bob Fosse's 'Dancin'' plans to glide back to Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — “Dancin'” — choreographer Bob Fosse's tribute to the art of dance — is hoping to make its sleek and sexy return to Broadway under the guidance of a veteran Fosse dancer.
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NEW YORK (AP) — “Dancin'” — choreographer Bob Fosse's tribute to the art of dance — is hoping to make its sleek and sexy return to Broadway under the guidance of a veteran Fosse dancer.

A new production of the musical is aiming for a Broadway bow during the 2022-23 season, according to producer Joey Parnes and Nicole Fosse, the late choreographer's daughter.

“What I really love about it is it’s so celebratory. And coming out of this pandemic, we have cause to celebrate, right?” Nicole Fosse, the artistic director of The Verdon Fosse Legacy dance training program, told The Associated Press.

The revival will be directed by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento, who was in the original company of “Dancin'” and also was in Fosse's last show in his lifetime on Broadway, “Big Deal.” Cilento calls the chance to helm the revival an honor.

“I get the opportunity to represent Bob and put him back on the boards on Broadway in the 21st century. It’s mind- blowing and it’s so exciting,” Cilento said. “He’s such an incredible artist and it was an honor to sit on the stage and in the studio anywhere with him just watching his artistry.”

“Dancin’” opened on Broadway in 1978 with Ann Reinking also in the cast and ended in 1982 after 1,774 performances. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including best new musical, and it earned Fosse a Tony for choreography.

The show marries high-intensity, varied dancing styles to a soundtrack that includes such artists as Johann Sebastian Bach, Neil Diamond and Carole Bayer Sager. The songs include George M. Cohan's “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to Cat Stevens' “Was Dog a Doughnut.”

“I really see it as a magic carpet ride. The audience gets on the magic carpet and you’re taken for a ride,” said Nicole Fosse, the child of Fosse and Gwen Verdon. “I don’t ever think of it as a musical revue, although I know back in the '70s it was labeled a musical revue. I’ve always disagreed with that. There is no plot, but you’re taking on a very specific journey.”

The new version will be faithful to the original with perhaps some new orchestrations and a tribute to Fosse tucked inside.

“He was so in touch with the human heart and the pulse of the people — that doesn’t go out of style,” Nicole Fosse said. “Bob Fosse was always on the cutting edge, with his fingers on the hot buttons of the days’ issues and the human condition, and so that will continue.”

Her father was the exacting mind behind the angular movements and bowler hats of the celebrity-skewering “Chicago,” the brutally autobiographical “All That Jazz” and the dark punch of the film “Cabaret.”

While the soon-to-be relaunched revival of “Chicago” has choreography inspired by Fosse, Nicole Fosse doesn't see it as an adequate representation of her father's vast dance work, which was broad and eclectic. Over the years, she also watched with dismay as the so-called “Fosse style” grows stagnant, overly posed and two-dimensional.

“I believe this reproduction of ‘Dancing’’ will breathe back the original intention into the movement and the subtleties and the nuances and the humor that is there. Over the years, Fosse has become sort of humorless,” she said.

Fosse has been rediscovered by a new generation with the recent eight-part FX series "Fosse/Verdon,” which explored the complex, fiery relationship Fosse had with Verdon. It starred Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams and revealed that Fosse was a deeply flawed and tortured genius who leaned on others for inspiration and guidance.

While no recording of the original “Dancin'” exists, Nicole Fosse has archival material and extensive notes that she'll share. Cilento is asking dancer Christine Colby, also in the original company, to help him reconstruct the numbers. Casting is to start in September.

When Fosse won the Tony for “Dancin,'” he first thanked the dancers and that feedback between performer and creator is still key, Cilento said.

“You’re only as good as the dancers on the floor. You get inspired, there’s feedback back and forth," he said. "It just energizes you to try to do really good work for them. And obviously, we put out for him so it works on both ends.”

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press