Dancers over 40 celebrates 40 years of DANCIN’

On Monday, March 26th Dancers over 40 hosted a celebration of the 40th-anniversary of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’.  The sold-out event included a panel discussion by the original Broadway cast, a second panel comprised many of the show’s replacement performers, guest appearances by other Fosse veterans (host Bebe Neuwirth, surprise guest Ben Vereen, etc.), the LaDuca Lifetime Achievement Award (to Ann Reinking), and a magical performance of “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man.”  Thank you to all who participated and came out to celebrate this incredible production and the dancers who brought the choreography to life. (For more photos, visit the Dancers over 40 Facebook page)

Michael Kubala, James Horvath, Eileen Casey, Moderator Kevin Winkler, Lloyd Culbreath,
Valerie-Jean Miller, Clif de Raita

Wayne Ciliento, Moderator Ken Bloom, Ann Reinking, Kathryn Doby, Gail Benedict, William
Whitener

Gail Benedict, Lloyd Culbreath, Sandahl Bergman, Eileen Casey, James Horvath, Wayne
Cilento, Clif de Raita, Valerie-Jean Miller, Christine Colby, Michael Kubala, Jill Cook (not
Pictured: Ann Reinking, Richard Korthaze, William Whitener)

Phil LaDuca and Ann Reinking

Bebe Neuwirth, Nicole Fosse, and John Sefakis

Dancers Over 40 Presents The 40th Anniversary and Reunion of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’

DANCIN’ opened on Broadway on March 27, 1978, and ran a very successful four years, and was Bob Fosse’s only all-dancing and all-singing musical. To mark this historic event, Dancers Over 40 will assemble a spectacular “once-in-a-lifetime” panel of original cast members for the 40th anniversary (almost exactly to the day of their 1978 debut) on March 26, 2018, at St. Luke’s Theater.

The anniversary celebration will feature video clips as well as live performances from DANCIN’ (Percussion 1 & 3, with assistance from the Verdon/Fosse Legacy). Celebrating with us will be original cast members Gail Benedict, Sandahl Bergman, Wayne Cilento, Christine Colby, Jill Cook, Linda Haberman, Rickard Korthaze, Ann Reinking, William Whitener and Fosse DANCIN’ assistant and long-time DO40 member, Kathryn Doby. There will be two panels, the first being the reunion with original cast members, moderated by author, theater historian – and now a documentary filmmaker – Ken Bloom (Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of all Time and the upcoming documentary on Gwen Verdon). The second panel will be hosted by Kevin Winkler and include cast replacements from DANCIN’ and other Fosse dancers, including Eileen Casey, Dana Moore, Lloyd Culbreath and Diana Laurenson. Also, mention must be made of those talents we have lost, including DO40 founding member John Mineo, as well as Rene Ceballos, Chris Chadman, Ed Love and Charles Ward.

Click here for ticket information.

229891S11

Dancers Over 40 is an all-volunteer, membership-driven non-profit arts organization dedicated to preserving the history, legacy, and lives of our mature creative community while sharing the knowledge with the younger generation, particularly dancers just beginning their careers.

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

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. 

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

67 years ago…Verdon and Fosse made strikingly similar Broadway debuts

Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse made strikingly similar Broadway debuts.  Gwen performed in and assisted Jack Cole on ALIVE AND KICKING, a Follies-style musical revue with comedic sketches, songs, and production numbers.  The show opened on January 17th, 1950—just three days before Bob Fosse’s Broadway debut.  He performed his “Fosse and Niles” act with his first wife, Mary Ann Niles, in DANCE ME A SONG (also a musical song-and-dance revue) which opened January 20th, 1950.

ALIVE AND KICKING closed after a mere 46 performances and DANCE ME A SONG closed after only 35.  Nevertheless, the musicals—which played at theaters only six blocks away from each other—helped to launch the bright and legendary Broadway careers of Verdon and Fosse.

L to R: Bob Scheerer, Cliff Ferre, and Bob Fosse in the Broadway show, DANCE ME A SONG, 1950.

Jack Cole and Gwen Verdon dancing “Dove’s Blues” in the Broadway show, ALIVE AND KICKING, 1950.

Happy Birthday, Bob Fosse!

scan0458Robert Louis Fosse was born on this day (June 23rd), 1927. Growing up in Chicago, young Bob Fosse was obsessed with Fred Astaire, the king of Hollywood’s Golden Age of movie musicals. As a boy Fosse would watch his famous films and try to imitate not only Astaire’s tapping feet, but also his debonair style and enchanting charm. At age twenty-five, Fosse landed his own contract with Hollywood’s MGM studios as a dancer in movies such as Kiss Me, Kate, Give A Girl A Break, and The Affairs of Dobie Gillis. One day Fred Astaire bumped into Fosse while on the MGM set. Astaire politely introduced himself and, before walking away, casually kicked a nail that was lying on the ground, causing it to ricochet in an intricate pattern that simply mesmerized Fosse. After Astaire left, Fosse recovered that nail and worked for hours to reenact its choreography—with the same ease and grace of Astaire.

But Bob Fosse certainly didn’t always stand in the shadows of Fred Astaire; he went on to revolutionize American theatre dance. His blend of awesome sensuality, clever humor, cinematic insight, popular references, and a hint of cynicism made musical theatre contemporary, consumable, and controversial. Fosse was one of the greatest dance visionaries of the 20th century. He directed and choreographed over twenty-three films and Broadway musicals and won four Oscars and eight Tony Awards (more than any other choreographer). Additionally, Fosse is the only person ever to have won the “Triple Crown:” a Tony for Pippin, an Oscar for Cabaret, and an Emmy for Liza Minnelli’s television concert, Liza with a ‘Z’—all in 1973.

Today, the signature style of bowler hats, turned-in toes, and stooped shoulders is universally recognized simply as “Fosse.” His innovative, internalized, character-driven style helped define a new vernacular in the art of American Musical Theatre, making “Fosse” a renowned genre of dance all its own. Bob Fosse’s legacy lives on onstage in musicals such as Chicago and Sweet Charity, in pop culture references and inspiration, and through Fosse Master Classes produced by The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC.

 

50th Anniversary of “Sweet Charity” on Broadway 1966-2016

BarSceneDrinkToday we celebrate the half century anniversary of Tony Award winning American musical Sweet Charity.

In January 1966, The Nederlanders turned New York City’s famed Palace Theatre into a legitimate theatrical stage for the opening of Sweet Charity conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse starring Gwen Verdon.

Gwen Verdon played the title role of Charity Hope Valentine, a taxi dancer at a dance hall called the “Fan-Dango Ballroom” in Times Square, New York City.

IfMyFriendsCOuldSeeMeNowA Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gwen Verdon! “Glamorous Redhead” 1959

Today celebrate with us the birthday of one of America’s brightest stage and screen stars, Gwenyth Evelyn Verdon born January 13, 1925.

Age 34 “Glamorous Redhead Gwen Verdon” Magazine Cover 

pic_2015-10-29_121404

“The Theatre, Magazine of Drama, Comedy, Music”

from “January, 1959″ sold for “25 cents”

“Broadway’s Complicated Redhead Gwen Verdon dances like a goddess lives like a recluse and is the sole support of the town’s most popular musical.” Continue reading