All That Jazz in Bryant Park

On Monday, August 7th Bryant Park hosted an outdoor film screening of Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” as part of HBO’s Summer Film Series.  Despite the gloomy weather, the screening had a great turnout and film fans—umbrellas in hand—crowded around the park lawn to watch the legendary movie on the big screen.

It’s showtime, folks!” Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) is a workaholic Broadway director and choreographer. He is also a womanizer, a heavy drinker, a chain smoker and frequent pill popper. Bob Fosse directed this jazzy, thinly-veiled autobiographical film showcasing his very own personal demons. Not surprisingly, Gideon (like Fosse) eventually finds himself in a life-or-death struggle as he goes under the knife for open-heart surgery. Nominated for nine Oscars, All That Jazz won four (Score, Art Direction, Costumes, Editing). If you can survive it, there’s no business-like show business. (1979) 123 MIN. (R) (FOX)

Congratulations Jessica Lange! Lead Actress Emmy nomination “Feud: Bette and Joan”

Congratulations Jessica Lange on your Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Emmy nomination. Feud: Bette and Joan

A revered actress and three-time Emmy winner, Jessica Lange was perhaps a shoo-in for this year’s crop of nominees. After portraying Joan Crawford in Ryan Murphy’s miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan,” Lange earned her eighth Emmy nod, and she will be competing against co-star Susan Sarandan in the lead actress in a drama category.

Published New York Times, March 1978: Dancin’ king is the toast of Broadway / Director Bob Fosse was jumping with joy last night at Tavern on the Green. He caressed his favorite lady, Jessica Lange, and wore a broad smile after his new musical “Dancin'” won rave reviews. Our own Clive Barnes called it “tremendous” and “fantastic.” 

Published NY Daily News, Monday, February 1, 1960: The Stars at Night. Gwen Verdon, Reed Dawson and Joan Crawford discuss program for variety show and ball to be held night of April 3 for beinfit of the new Children’s Clinic of the Postgraduate Center of Psychotherapy, 218 E. 70th St. Dawson is chairman of trustees of the Center.  Both Gwen and Joan will officiate at the affair.

 

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.

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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.”

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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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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A nod to our Verdon Fosse Dance Reconstructeurs. . .

Through the Bob Fosse Master Class Series, Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeurs teach style, technique, and work ethic to students at dance studios and colleges across the United States and the world.  Our goal is to reconstruct—rather than revive, restage, or re-imagine—Bob Fosse’s choreography with the original intent and integrity.

This month, we’re honoring four of the Legacy’s core reconstructeurs: Lloyd Culbreath, Dana Moore, Valarie Pettiford, and Mimi Quillin.

Lloyd Culbreath Broadway/national tour credits include DANCIN’, SOPHISTICATED LADIES, THE TAP DANCE KID, BIG DEAL, SWEET CHARITY, HONKY TONK NIGHTS, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, GUYS AND DOLLS, ANYTHING GOES, ON THE TOWN (Assistant Choreographer), MAN OF LA MANCHA (Assistant Choreographer), CHICAGO (Dance Captain) and CHITA RIVERA: THE DANCER’S LIFE. Lloyd teaches at the June Claire Dance Center of Long Island.

Dana Moore Broadway/national tour credits include A CHORUS LINE, SWEET CHARITY, DANCIN’, ON YOUR TOES, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, HOW TO SUCCEED…, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, DANGEROUS GAMES, SUGAR BABIES, COPPERFIELD, CHICAGO, FOSSE, and FALSETTOS.  Film credits include The Producers: the Movie Musical, Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, and the PBS special of FOSSE. Dana is a Musical Theatre faculty member at Marymount Manhattan College and teaches Theatre Dance at Steps on Broadway.

Valarie Pettiford Broadway/national tour credits include: SOPHISTICATED LADIES, BIG DEAL, DANCIN’, SWEET CHARITY, GRIND, WEST SIDE STORY, SHOWBOAT, CHICAGO, and FOSSE (Tony, Drama League, and Outer Critics nominee). Recent TV credits include “Half and Half” (3 NAACP Image nominations), “Being Mary Jane,” “Black-ish,” “True Blood,” “Born Again Virgin,” “Treme,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI,” and “The Blacklist.” Film credits include “Jumping the Broom,” “Glitter,” and “Stomp the Yard.” Valarie is an NAACP Winner for best actress in the LA production of Michael John La Chuisa’s THE WILD PARTY as Queenie. She is a Bistro winner for the Cabaret Debut at the Metropolitan Room. She can be seen touring with her sold-out one women show around the country and has two CDs available on iTunes.

Mimi Quillin Broadway/national tour credits include the 1986 revival of SWEET CHARITY (Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain), RAGTIME, and AIN’T BROADWAY GRAND. She recently won “Best Production” at the 2016 United Solo Festival for her one-woman show, “Call Fosse at the Minskoff.” Mimi continues to teach and choreograph for dance companies, theatres, and colleges across the country.

Request our reconstructeurs to teach at your university or studio or to speak at your event by e-mailing theverdonfosselegacy@gmail.com.

A caricature is worth a thousand words

American caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld, created a number of iconic black-and-white cartoons of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon chronicling their Broadway careers.  Hirschfeld would publish his portraits of dancers, singers, and actors prior to a new Broadway show’s opening night.  Below are several caricatures from The Al Hirschfeld Foundation.

DAMN YANKEES 1955

NEW GIRL IN TOWN 1957

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