Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen, Eugene Fleming, Edwaard Liang, Dana Moore
Director: Matthew Diamond
Genres: Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
The electricity of one of Broadway's greatest talents springs to life in Fosse, a tribute to the man behind such favorites as Cabaret, Chicago, Sweet Charity, and Pippin. A seductive mixture of physically aggressive dance ... more »
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And that's showbiz, baby!
Danny Coughlin | New York, NY | 02/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This happens to be one of PBS' Great Performances Dance in America series' greatest realizations of a Broadway show and, more importantly, I think one of the most significant documentations of Bob Fosse's choreographic cannon. Here you have the authority of Ben Vereen and Ann Reinking peforming in or recreating some of their original stage numbers. One of the reasons I wanted to see this show was to see Vereen recreate the "Glory" number from Pippin. Vereen sings "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" - a favorite song of Fosse's from Dancin' - imbuing an added level of relevance for anyone who knows Vereen's life and career. Vereen and Reinking bring to this performance a certain history and magic, a passing on of the tradition. It is moving to see them pass it on to a new generation of Broadway dancers. This is a great cast of dancer/singers. To name a few - Rachel Rak's powerhouse sexy performance of "I Gotcha", Brad Anderson's athletic grace and angelic voice, and Ken Allen's dead on precision stands out in every number. And the evolution of Fosse's choreographic language becomes striking seen in this context, from increasingly jazz-influenced style of "Shoeless Joe" and "Steam Heat" of the 50s to the vaudeville of the Chicago, Liza with a Z and "I Want to Be a Dancin' Man" numbers. And who can resist "Big Spender" and "Rich Man's Frug"? "Repetitive", one reviewer here claims. Yeah, and Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine were accused of being "repetitive" in their vocabulary. "Fosse" also includes interviews with Vereen and Reinking that give insight into how Bob Fosse and his choreography attained the relevance this show displays. Reinking states that Fosse took every member of the ensemble seriously, as a character and not just a background dancer. She describes a dancer who, after working on a number all day, muttered "again?" when asked by Fosse to rehearse further. That unfortunate dancer was soon looking for another job. This tells you something of Fosse's perfectionism. "That's what I would like anybody to feel [seeing this show]", Reinking states, "even just a breath of someone's dedication and passion".
Complain? Name me another film or television document to capture the American musical theatre in recent years. Along with 1990 documentary on Fosse, "Steam Heat", by Dance in America, this will be one of the greatest records of the genius of Bob Fosse. Except for the record of numbers Fosse choreographed for films and television, this is the only record of so many Broadway numbers fans and scholars will be able to rely on in future. And what a wonderful thing to have. I'm giving "Fosse" to all my friends who love the American musical theatre. It's a blast to watch all of these numbers again, and I know they will LOVE it."
Fosse Without the Razzmatazz
S. Sittig | Washington, D.C. | 02/20/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Let me start by saying I'm a huge fan of the work of Bob Fosse. Let me also say that I saw FOSSE live on Bway a few weeks after it opened, with the wonderful Valarie Pettiford opening the show with "Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries" and with a cast that was so precise, so together in their performing of the choreography it really would have been hard to beat that experience.Unfortunately, this filmed version of the show, filmed towards the end of the show's run, with Ben Vereen and Ann Reinking in the cast, turned out to be a huge disappointment for this fan.The energy is definitely palpable, and a few numbers like "I Wanna Be A Dancin' Man", "Big Spender", "Cruncy Granola Suite", "Steam Heat" and "Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo." work wonderfully on the small screen and display the necessary Fosse flair as well as precision required.I wish I could say the same about the other numbers. "Bye Bye Blackbird" is a mess, almost unrecognizable from the original version from LIZA WITH A 'Z" (which I have thanks to a friend who taped it many years ago when it aired on PBS.)and I'm afraid to say this was mostly due to Ben Vereen's inability to perform like he used to. Too many changes were made in the original choreography to accomodate his current physical limitations.I'm not saying a man who has gone through what he has should be expected to perform/dance just like when he was 20. That would be absurd. But at some point, it almost seems best to be clever about how/when you use an ageing star. Vereen does wonderfully with "The Manson Trio" from PIPPIN, and with "Me and My Shadow" and "Razzle Dazzle", where his movements are smaller, more simple and more acting-based. He especially excels in "Mr. Bojangles", where his real life story lends a certain gravitas to a number I must confess I always found a bit maudlin.But unfortunately, Vereen's dancing in some other places is strained and just really painful to watch. I wish it weren't so, but it's true. It would have been best if he had stepped out for some of the more complex numbers and allowed the younger dancers to display the Fosse steps more accurately. That being said, I think having Vereen open and close the show with "Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries" works well and his vocal performance on the song is unique and beautifully delivered. Reinking, wisely, does not try to recreate her peak dancing years, but instead, acts more as a narrator and conduit for Fosse's specific style, appearing only in "Big Spender" and in the short transitional segment, "Fosse's World".The other problem with this program is that the dancers that ARE at their peak, and should know better, are often not together and lack precision. Not just individually, but as a group. (This would particularly distress Fosse himself, I'm sure). Numbers like "The Rich Man's Frug", "I Gotcha" (the two men are particularly unimpressive in this one), "Blackbird" and even the once stunning "Sing, Sing, Sing" that closes the show, lack the luster they once had when coached by Fosse and are several notches below the quality I witnessed when FOSSE had just opened on Broadway.No one loves Fosse and Reinking and Vereen more than I do, but this video was really just a big disappointment for me. I wish the original cast at its dancing peak had been recorded back in 1998/99, instead of this sort of "last minute" recording of a show that was about to close.Fosse deseves better and those who follow his work know so. A student of his would do better to watch ALL THAT JAZZ and the several other films and T.V. shows that showcase Fosse's work."
The Fosse legacy
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a former dancer, I marvel at the technique and ability of the ensemble in this show, and of Bob Fosse's choreography, which challenges their skill to the maximum, with his unique vision of movement and form, somewhat like a marriage between a young sleek cat and Marcel Marceau's mime, usually with a touch of decadence (sometimes a hefty slice of it) and always humor. Fosse (1927-1987), was a man who though very serious about his work, never failed to fill it with a carefree wit.
Headed by Ben Vereen and Ann Reinking (who co-directed and co-choreographed), it's the ensemble of dancers that steal the spotlight, like Ken Alan who does such graceful tap dancing, the stunning redhead Dylis Croman, who solos in "Sing, Sing, Sing", and Meg Gillentine, who does "Steam Heat".
The shows represented are:
Pajama Game (1954)
Damn Yankees (1955)
Sweet Charity (1966)
Bob Hope Special (1968)
Liza with a Z (1972)
Big Deal (1986)
In three acts, Act One and Two end with interview clips of Vereen, Reinking and Dana Moore, speaking of what it was like working with Fosse. I never had the opportunity to do so, but did audition for him once, and it went on for days...I was amazed by his thoroughness, patience, and fairness, and when it came down to two of us, his extreme kindness in bidding me goodbye.
Despite the enormous talent involved and Fosse's genius, this show just misses the mark. The lighting for instance sometimes is too dark to see the legs and feet when they are wearing dark clothes (which is a lot of the time), and perhaps Vereen and Reinking aren't quite the star wattage power needed to hold the production together, and on occasion, there is some distinctly non-Fosse-like lack of precision; nevertheless, this show, which was a PBS "Great Performances" entry, will be appreciated by dance aficionados and Fosse fans.
There's No There There...
Peter J. Elliot | usa | 02/18/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For Fosse fans and Dance fans, this is a real dissapointment. Obviously fans will get it because it's all we can get. In truth it is NOT, repeat NOT a recording of the 1999 Broadway dance-muscial, Fosse. It is sections from a much later series of performances designed to accomodate a wonderful, if aging Ben Vereen. Neither Reinking, who barely dances in this (except for her only recorded version of Big Spender and the wonderful Cool Hand Luke) or Vereen were even IN the original. If you liked the original, what made if work were the sheer number of Fosse pieces and Reinking's crisp, As Fosse As Fosse Can Get choreography. By this date, the dancers are well aware of their status as fill ins in a the third or fourth rung cast and back up to two stars who have been brought in to boost theatre sales. Few of the young stars of the original cast are here. Their replacements try hard and are talented for sure, but it's just not here. This is something they threw together entirely to honor Vereen, who, lets face it, needs some honoring and clearly Reinking stood in the back to honor her friend. He is wonderful. And his performance is worth seeing - but this should be retitled "Ben Vereen's Fosse." Hopefully someday the tapes of the original production with the cast that is on the soundtrack will surface. In the meanwhile, true diehards have to go back to the footage from the films, Pajama Game, (steam heat) Sweet Charity, (Big Spender, Rich Mans Frug) Kiss Me Kate, The Little Prince, All That Jazz and listen to the soundtrack, to get the idea."