RIP Paula Kelly

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Paula Kelly, who passed away this week at age 76. Kelly was a tremendous Broadway and Hollywood actress who starred as Helene in Bob Fosse’s film adaptation of “Sweet Charity” (1969).

The incredible trio, “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This,” featuring Shirley MacLaine, Chita Rivera, and Paula Kelly was magically captured on film and will continue to inspire dancers and dreamers for years to come.

Stephanie Pope: What Was Bob Fosse Really Like?

by Frank Rizzo
May, 2019

Many fans of Broadway musicals are riveted to the current television mini-series Fosse/Verdon on the FX Network. The eight-episode series, based on the biography Fosse by Sam Wasson and directed by Tommy Kail (Broadway’s Hamilton), follows the lives, careers, and relationships of film, stage, and television director-choreographer Bob Fosse, played by Sam Rockwell, and beloved Tony Award-winning actress-dancer Gwen Verdon, played by Michelle Williams.

Watching the series with particular interest in Stephanie Pope, who is featured in a revival of The Music Man at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. (The run of the musical has been extended to Thursday, June 20.) Pope plays the comic character role of the mayor’s wife, Eulalie Shinn, but she proudly calls herself “a Fosse dancer,” having performed in many of his shows.

I talked with Pope, whom I saw in Fosse’s last original Broadway musical, Big Deal, during its out of town try-out in Boston in 1986. (The show closed shortly after it made it to Broadway, though his choreography earned Fosse his eighth Tony Award.)

In 1987, Pope played Helene in the tour launch of the revival of Sweet Charity, which starred Debbie Allen on Broadway. Fosse and Verdon were readying the company when he collapsed on the street in Washington, D.C. while walking with Verdon from his hotel to the theater where the tour was about to open that night. He died of a massive heart attack later that evening. He was 60.

What was he like that day?

“He rehearsed us like crazy and at the end we all gathered around and he made a speech, saying things like ‘Save your money,’ and things like that. We thought it was kind if an odd speech to give on an opening day.

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Transport Group hosts SWEET CHARITY in concert

On June 17th, The Transport Group presented SWEET CHARITY in concert, celebrating the 1966 Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, Bob Fosse, and Gwen Verdon musical with Broadway performances of song and dance accompanied by a live 23-piece orchestra.

The Verdon Fosse Legacy contributed two reconstructed works for the performance: “Big Spender” (reconstructed by Dana Moore) and “If My Friends Could See Me Now” (reconstructed by Mimi Quillin.

The ladies of “Big Spender” (L to R: Alyssa Epstein, Danelle Morgan, Christine Sienicki, Anna Schnaitter, Kenna Morris Garcia, Lauren Blackman, Naomi Kakuk, Emily Grace Kersey, Kaylee Olson, and Caitlin Abraham)

Jessica Lee Goldyn backstage before “If My Friends Could See Me Now”

Musical direction by Joey Chancey.
Directed by Jack Cummings III.
Hosted by Dana Moore and Mimi Quillin.

Dancers flock to another week of Fosse at Steps on Broadway

The Verdon Fosse Legacy held another wonderful week of Fosse master classes at Steps on Broadway earlier this month.  Classes were taught by Fosse veterans: Spence Ford, Mimi Quillin, and Stephanie Pope.  Take a look at some photos and a short video clip from Stephanie’s class:

 

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (or email theverdonfosselegacyllc@gmail.com) to stay updated on upcoming master classes.

“The Sound of Movie Musicals” on the BBC

UK dancers and fans were able to catch us on the BBC’s “The Sound of Movie Musicals with Neil Brand.”  Dancers from The Verdon Fosse Legacy worked on Bob Fosse’s “Rich Man’s Frug” from SWEET CHARITY (1966) under the direction of Lloyd Culbreath and Dana Moore.  To check out a teaser from the episode, click here.

Back at Broadway Dance Center

Broadway Dance Center will be hosting Fosse Master Classes throughout February.  Check out the schedule below and visit www.broadwaydancecenter.com to pre-register.

Sunday, February 3rd 1:30-4:30pm
with Michael McArthur
teaching “Steam Heat” from THE PAJAMA GAME

Sunday, February 10th 1:30-4:30pm
with Valarie Pettiford
teaching “Razzle Dazzle” from CHICAGO (1975)

Sunday, February 17th 12-3pm
with Valarie Pettiford
teaching “We Both Reached for the Gun” from CHICAGO (1975)

Sunday, February 24th 1:30-4:30pm
with Jane Lanier
teaching “The Aloof (Rich Man’s Frug)” from SWEET CHARITY (1986)

See you in class!

Candy Brown on the mission of The Verdon Fosse Legacy

The mission of The Verdon Fosse Legacy is to promote, protect, and preserve the artistic and intellectual property of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.  Here’s a snippet of Fosse dancer, Candy Brown, sharing how she feels Artistic Director, Nicole Fosse, is keeping this mission statement 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

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 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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