HAPPY 86th BIRTHDAY

Today we send happy 86th birthday wishes to Hollywood star Tab Hunter!  

A product of Hollywood’s Golden Era, Tab Hunter became Hollywood’s “golden boy” and starred in over 40 feature films. One of Hunter’s first films for Warner Bros was The Sea Chase (1955), supporting John Wayne and Lana Turner. Oblivious to his sexuality, Hunter remained the all-American boy-next-door who guys envied and girls desired during the 1950s and 1960s. Being so popular that when he recorded a song called “Young Love”  it knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the charts and prompted the creation of Warner Records today known as Warner Music Group, as well as the purchase, by Jack Warner, of a popular baseball musical from Broadway for Hunter to star in. “Warner, as a gift, bought Damn Yankees! for me,” he notes in his biography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, adding how much he enjoyed working with his costars, the assistant director Stanley Donen and choreographer Bob Fosse.

Joe Hardy a lovestruck baseball player portrayed by Tab Hunter on screen in 1958 for the Warner Bros movie musical Damn Yankees opposite leading lady Gwen Verdon as Lola the Devil’s seductress assistant. Lola was is the Tony Award winning character Verdon originated on Broadway with future husband and choreographer Bob Fosse.

Below is Tab Hunter’s heartfelt recollection of first seeing Verdon perform live with Jack Cole’s dance troupe in a Los Angeles nightclub and then working with Gwen filming Damn Yankees.

Thoughts of Gwen…

I first laid eyes on Gwen at Ciro’s night club on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. She had become the talk of the town as the lead dancer with the very exciting Jack Cole Dancers. I was hypnotized by her red hair whirling above those beautiful, long legs that seemed to start at her neck and go on forever. I have never forgotten that evening. At the time I was still in high school with no aspirations to be an actor.

A few years later I was under contract to Continue reading

This is our “Once-A-Year Day!”—Happy Fourth of July! The Pajama Game 1957

Happy Fourth of July!  Since many Americans will celebrate this holiday with a picnic in the park, here’s a fun clip of Bob Fosse’s “Once-A-Year Day” from the 1957 film version of “The Pajama Game.”

In a Dance Magazine article (1957), Carol Haney described the “Once-A-Year Day” choreography—both the choreography of the movement and of the camera: “For a scene like the big “Once-A-Year Day” number—the picnic dance which we did on location in a park—Bob Fosse re-choreographed his original dance completely to involve more people and all the space you can cover with a camera. And Stanley Donen, who knows about dance, photographed it in wonderful travelling shots that captured all of the dynamism of the movements and at the same time provided enough air around the performers to make their movements significant. You see, you just can’t set up your camera and photograph a dance…You have to know just where to place it, which angle will make it exciting and alive.”

Wright State University performs “Rich Man’s Frug”

The Verdon Fosse Legacy was invited to Wright State University for a week-long immersion of Fosse technique and repertoire with their dance and musical theatre departments.  Veteran Fosse dance and one of the Legacy’s leading reconstructeurs, Lloyd Culbreath, and his assistant, Marissa Calabrese, taught daily master classes, participated in a talk-back, and reconstructed “Rich Man’s Frug” from SWEET CHARITY for the department’s spring concert.

“The program, staff, and facility were all fantastic.  And the students were incredibly talented.  It was an honor and an absolute pleasure to work with such talent and professionalism.”—Lloyd Culbreath

The Verdon Fosse Legacy would like to extend a special thank you to The Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State University and it’s director, Joe Deer, for making this collaboration possible.  For more information about Wright State University, visit www.wright.edu.   All inquiries regarding choreographic reconstructions of Bob Fosse’s work can be directed to theverdonfosselegacyllc@gmail.com.

*All photos by Scott Robbins

Steps on Broadway Conservatory students perform “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man”

The Verdon Fosse Legacy was invited to reconstruct “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” on the pre-professional students of the Steps on Broadway Conservatory Program. Veteran Fosse dancer and Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeur, Lloyd Culbreath, taught the piece with the help of his assistant, Marissa Calabrese, and vocal coach, Jan Horvath (also a veteran Fosse performer).

Steps on Broadway Conservatory performs “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” (photo: Eduardo Patino)

Bob Fosse choreographed “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” as a tribute to his own personal dance icon, Fred Astaire. As the Act II opener from 1978’s musical revue, DANCIN,’ “Dancin’ Man” honors the charm and elegance of Astaire and celebrates the golden age of the Hollywood musical. But the ensemble production number also highlights a poignant, universal sentiment that lies at the heart of every dancer—despite all of the sacrifices (physical, emotional, professional), the dancer loves to Continue reading

HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY BOB FOSSE!

Celebrate with us the 90th birthday of an American dance theatre and film performance icon Robert Louis “Bob” Fosse born June 23, 1927.

Pictured above is a never before seen candid photograph from the Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC archives featuring Bob Fosse backstage in the acclaimed 1963 musical Pal Joey dressing room at City Center wearing terrycloth robe. Having verso glue residue and ink handwritten annotation reading “Pal Joey” measuring 7 1/2 x 8 inches overall. 

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Gwen Verdon, Marvin’s Room Miramax Films 1996

The life-affirming reminder of the gift we give ourselves when we love unconditionally is Marvin’s Room, Scott McPherson’s dramatic comedy about two estranged sisters who are forced back into each other’s lives by health crisis. The play has been presented in many incarnations, including an Off Broadway run in 1991, a year before Mr. McPherson’s death from AIDS complications at age 33, before his 1992 death he finished writing the screenplay later produced by Robert De Niro with Miramax Films in 1996. The seminal play has not been performed on a Broadway stage since. This month on 42nd street the Roundabout Theatre Company opens Marvin’s Room at the American Airlines Theatre.

In honor of the June 29th Marvin’s Room play revival we visit film scenes from the 1996 motion picture directed by Jerry Zaks with actress Gwen Verdon playing Ruth Wakefield, Marvin’s sister, starring award winning actors Meryl StreepLeonardo DiCaprioContinue reading

Director Richard Attenborough and Dancer Nicole Fosse Saturday Review, June 1985

Saturday Review magazine cover with headlines reading “They’re Young, Restless, Successful and Talented – Who Are The Young Meteors? / America’s Hot New Dancers What they do for love / Bringing A Chorus Line to the Screen: Director Richard Attenborough and Dancer Nicole Fosse,” dated June 1985 with newsstand cover price of $2.50.

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Happy Birthday to the “Father of Jazz Dance,” Jack Cole April 27, 1911

Jack Cole (originally John Ewing Richter) was born on April 27th, 1911 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Following his parents’ divorce, Cole ran away from home to study dance with Rush St. Denis and Ted Shawn. He quickly joined the Denishawn Company and also performed with the Humphrey-Weidman Group before leaving the modern dance world to pursue a commercial dance career.

Cole choreographed for the nightclub scene, Broadway stage, and silver screen throughout the mid-twentieth century. He founded a troupe of twelve dancers (which included the likes of Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney, and Matt Mattox) to serve as the core ensemble in much of his highly technical work. Some of Cole’s Broadway choreography credits included ALIVE AND KICKING (1950), KISMET (1962), A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1962), and MAN OF LA MANCHA (1965). In Hollywood, Cole worked on such iconic films as “On The Riviera” (1951), “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), and “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and coached starlets like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Mitzi Gaynor, and Betty Grable.

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Mimi in Milan, Fosse Master Class in Italy, 2017

Last month Mimi Quillin visited Milan, Italy and was welcomed to teach at the Centro Danzaricerca.  The studio, owned and operated by Agnese Riccatelli, was founded over thirty years ago and their students are currently in the finals of “Italy’s Got Talent.”  Mimi taught the Bob Fosse’s iconic “Rich Man’s Frug” from SWEET CHARITY, for which she served as dance captain and assistant to Bob and Gwen for the 1986 Broadway revival.

Mimi and Centro Danzaricerca owner, Agnese Riccatelli

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