Fosse is a three-act musical revue showcasing the choreography of Bob Fosse. The musical was conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr, Chet Walker, and Ann Reinking.
The first idea for Fosse was conceived by Chet Walker. Chet Walker was in many of Bob Fosse’s shows and served as dance captain. He began workshops in New York City where he hired numerous dancers to begin the process of putting the numerous pieces of choreography on its feet. Livent, a Canadian-based theatrical production company, was the producer of workshops and also the pre-Broadway tour. Fosse started its tour in Toronto. A two-month rehearsal period was held at The National Ballet of Canada studios and a month performances were at the North York Performing Arts Theatre, now known as the Toronto Center for the Arts, in July 1998. Fosse then ran in Boston at the Colonial Theatre, in September 1998. The final leg of the tour before Broadway was at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California in October and December 1998. In Los Angeles, the show went through many changes. Producers wanted the 3 hour and 10 minute show to be cut down to a shorter 2 hour and 30 minute show. The producers felt it was too long for a Broadway dance review.
After 21 previews, the original Broadway production opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on January 14, 1999 and closed on August 25, 2001 after 1093 performances. 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.
In 2002, Fosse, featuring Reinking and Ben Vereen, was aired as part of the Great Performances series on PBS television. A London production opened at the West End Prince of Wales Theatre on February 8, 2000 and closed January 6, 2001.
The musical did not recreate the musical numbers as originally presented but instead had primarily black-and-white costumes (including the all-important hats), set against a simple setting. Reviewer Ben Brantley of The New York Times describes the show: "The ghost of the man being celebrated -- blurred and fleeting but definitely there -- first shows up when the girl bursts onstage with a scream. That's the signal for a sequence lasting just 45 seconds, and it occurs halfway through the first act of Fosse, the hard-working but oddly affectless evening of dance by the choreographer Bob Fosse that opened last night at the Broadhurst Theater. At the sound of that scream, which echoes not with terror but with irrepressible energy, a slender, elfin-faced fellow with a goatee shoots into view, sliding on his side like a runaway roller skate. The orchestra is playing Cole Porter's From This Moment On, as the couple perform an acrobatic, exuberant and exasperated mating dance, an ode to percolating hormones. You've just received, in darkest January, a quick infusion of springtime, and it's impossible not to grin. Those 45 seconds are famous. They had much to do with propelling Bob Fosse's career as a show-business-shaking choreographer and director of musical comedy. The vignette, here vibrantly performed by Andy Blankenbuehler and Lainie Sakakura, is a re-creation of the first sequence Fosse choreographed for film, a scene from the 1953 movie of Kiss Me, Kate, danced by Fosse and Carol Haney. It was a calling card, of sorts, announcing that an audacious new choreographic talent had arrived, and when you watch the film today, Fosse's pas de deux still seems to tear through the celluloid.
Broadway Opening Night Cast:
Valarie Pettiford, Jane Lanier, Eugene Fleming, Desmond Richardson, Sergio Trujillo, Scott Wise, Kim Morgan Greene, Mary Ann Lamb, Dana Moore, Elizabeth Parkinson, 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 (Dance Captain), Michael Paternostro, Rachelle Rak, Lainie Sakakura (Dance Captain), Alex Sanchez.