Great Article About Broadway Commercials Featuring Fosse Shows

Broadway TV Commercials – A history of Broadway on TV
by Dom O’Hanlon – on 12 Nov 2015


Marketing a musical is no easy challenge. You can have the greatest show in the world with a string of awards to its name and rave reviews, but if the public don’t know it’s on – they won’t be buying tickets. Commercial theatre is ruthless, and shows that don’t turn a profit, however artistically successful they may be, will soon find themselves posting closing notices.

Watching new musicals open on both sides of the Atlantic, I’m often struck at the difference in efforts put in by productions in terms of marketing. Traditional ways of marketing include posters on the tube, London bus takeovers and the like – but with new media being front and centre in everyone’s daily life – social media has taken over as a key way to reach a core demographic.

There are many things that contribute towards a successful marketing campaign, but I recently read a quote from a producer who has embraced new media’s ability to lift a show from the 2D poster and place it into the 3D world – through EPK’s (Electronic Press Kits) to YouTube videos, specially commissioned videos and clips from the show. Whilst artistically, many would argue that exposing too much detail from a particular production can ruin the surprise, history would argue that instead this visual experience engages the consumer more and boosts interest in seeing the show live.

The history of TV commercials on Broadway is exceptionally interesting. Pippin broke new ground when it became the first show to actively show footage of the production during the commercial, a move that took Broadway by storm, and changed how marketing would work forever. Bob Fosse’s production originally opened on 23 October 1972, and ran for 1,944 performances before closing on 12 June 1977. Whilst it got off to a slow start, the combination of being a ‘concept’ musical and an unknown subject matter meant it was initially difficult to market.

Despite initial reservations from Fosse, he decided to choreograph and film a small 60 second segment of the production that showed Ben Vereen and two other dancers, Candy Brown and Pamela Sousa perform the “Manson Trio” from the song “Glory”. The commercial ended with the tagline: “You can see the other 119 minutes of Pippin live at the Imperial Theatre, without commercial interruption.”

The power of this commercial was so unique, that other productions soon got on the bandwagon, with some achieving more success than others. Since 1972, the practise is continued on both sides of the Atlantic, with commercials growing in size and stature – teams of people are now employed specifically to deliver the goods, with the hope that sales will pick up as the footage is beamed out across the country, and of course the world.

Whilst today it’s even easier to tap into that market – as a TV spot isn’t even needed to have the same effect. Video commercials can easily be shared and distributed online via social media and websites – footage from productions is now as vital as having an interesting poster.

Pippin aside, below is a selection of my personal favorite commercials from Broadway past:


2. Chicago (1975)

Whilst Bennett’s Chorus Line was packing them in at the Schubert, Fosse was attempting to do the same thing with an original musical of his own. Now the longest running revival on Broadway, the original production of Chicago was quite different, and starred Fosse’s wife Gwen Verdon opposite Chita Rivera. Notice how the commercial retains much of Pippin’s charm, focusing on just a moment of the show rather than a montage.

Bob Fosse “Balletic-Dance Terms with English Pronunciations and Identifications” 1949

A ballet dance terminology instructional book written by Margaret Oloff belonging to American Emmy, Tony, and Academy Award winning choreographer Bob Fosse.

19FVFMetallic gold paper covered performance reference book center titled, “Balletic-Dance Terms with English Pronunciations and Identifications” by Margaret R. Oloff, soft bound first edition published in 1949. Bookstore label Continue reading


Today we remember the accomplishments of a Broadway star, Tony Award – winning actor and Tony Award – nominated director, Roger Rees (May 1944 – July 2015).  Last week at exactly 7:45pm for one minute the marquees of Broadway theatres in New York were dimmed in his memory.BobFosseRogerReesCover

Studio promotional press photograph reading “ILLUSION AND REALITY – Director Bob Fosse shares a moment with Roger Rees who plays film director Aram Nicholas in Bob Fosse’s  Star 80 Warner Bros.”

Roger Rees began his film career in 1983 when Bob Fosse cast him opposite Mariel Hemingway as director Aram Nicholas in Star 80.  A film about the tragic life and death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. His last Broadway appearance was the starring role of Anton Schell in The Visit, opposite Chita Rivera, which opened 23 April 2015.

Star80LobbyCardReesCharlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said, “We are so fortunate that Roger Rees has graced our stages through the Continue reading


Celebrate today with us the birth of an American dance theatre and film performance icon

Robert Louis “Bob” Fosse born June 23, 1927

Pictured below are six a never before seen personally kept photographs from the Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC archives featuring Bob Fosse’s childhood from age 6 to about 14 years. Shown growing-up in Chicago, including early stage and dance eduction training.


Grade school snapshot photograph of “Bobbie Fosse” having “age 6 yrs” longhand penciled verso. According to sister Marianne Fosse, their mother seemed to remember this photo was taken the day her husband went to receive his Crossing Guard or school Safety Monitor belt, directing pedestrians. Slight folds, small edge tears, and surface wear or scratches present, measuring 3 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches overall. Continue reading

FOSSE heads to Holland! Valarie Pettiford teaches LMIPA students in Amsterdam

This month our very own Valarie Pettiford (Big Deal, DANCIN’, Fosse) traveled to Amsterdam to teach at the Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts. LMIPA is a university-like program that offers Bachelor’s Degrees, Intermediate Degrees, and preliminary courses in the performing arts: acting, singing, and dancing.

Earlier this year, Sigrid van Coillie visited New York with some of her LMIPA students and took a “Sing! Sing! Sing!” master class with Valarie. “Even in that first class,” Val remembers, “the students knew all about Bob and were familiar with his technique and style. They were overjoyed to have me really ‘work’ them!” says Valarie. After such a great experience, Sigrid invited Val to teach about twenty of LMIPA’s 4th year students for their graduation performance concert.

Valarie taught a medley of “Crunchy Granola Suite” (DANCIN’), “Dancin’ Man” (DANCIN’), and “I Gotcha” (“Liza with a Z”). “The number was only allotted a certain number of minutes,” Val explains, “so I was forced to cut down some of the choreography—which pains me to do. But the [Verdon Fosse] Estate granted me the liberty to abridge some of the numbers and also add more dancers to the piece.”

“This was a great experience for me, as well,” notes Val. “I liken it to when I was the dance captain for Big Deal. It’s a lot of responsibility to know everyone’s counts and movements and positions on stage. I had the time of my life teaching these incredible students. They were so willing and present. This experience reminded me why I’m in showbiz, why I love to teach, and why I’m so honored to pass on the torch of Fosse choreography.”

“It’s actually no surprise to me that Fosse is so popular abroad,” admits Val. “Fosse choreography is magical both to watch and to dance! The man was fierce and there was no one like him. Performing that work changes you as a human. It excites you and touches your core. Everybody ‘gets’ it and can relate to it for some reason. Fosse was a force to be reckoned with and I think that’s why he remains so popular all over the world.”

Thank you to Lucia Marthas, Sigrid Van Coillie, James Van Der Velden, Rich Ascroft, Jessica Schots, Roemjana, Steve Jones, Lloyd Culbreath, Valarie Pettiford, Nicole Fosse, and everyone else who made this possible.

10845983_10205769206483827_6421366582678102530_n 11390399_10205774885905809_4023365023966680190_nIf you are interested in having a Verdon Fosse Estate-sanctioned teacher come to your dance school or college, please e-mail

Happy 81st Birthday Shirley MacLaine! Charity Hope Valentine “Sweet Charity” film, 1968

Today we send heartfelt happy birthday wishes to Sweet Charity taxi dancer star and Academy Award winning film actress friend Shirley MacLaine born April 24, 1934.

ShirleyMasterAsSweetCFBShirley MacLaine in title role costume as Charity Hope Valentine starring in Bob Fosses celebrated Hollywood roadshow Technicolor musical film Sweet Charity.  Having left shoulder applied tattoo of single arrowed heart reading the name of her no good boyfriend “CHARLIE” Continue reading

Gwen Verdon “Upending” Paul Taylor Dance Company with Mikhail Baryshnikov & Rudolf Nureyev, 1981

In celebration of the 34 year performance anniversary, pictured are three original black and white news print press proof photographs with verso publication date “April 14 1981” having corresponding caption affixed reading:

NEW YORK: Ballet superstars MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV and RUDOLF NUREYEV give a “lift” to musical comedy star GWEN VERDON as they practice for a guest appearance in a gala benefit for the Paul Taylor Dance Company at City Center 4/14. It is the first time the two dancers, preeminent in their discipline, have performed together.


NureyevBaryshnikovGwen1981v Continue reading