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Theater Review: Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance -- Sex, Dance, and Show Tunes in 28 Numbers

By Seth Bisen-Hersh
Staff Reporter

Colonial Theatre

106 Boylston Street, Boston


Tickets $48.50 to $68.50; $20 for students and seniors with valid IDone hour before curtain except Saturday night

Through Sunday

Imagine watching show stopper after show stopper after show stopper. Imagine non-stop excitement created by just the slightest inclination of the shoulder. Imagine thirty talented dancers dancing their hearts away. Well, that is exactly what Fosse, now playing at the Colonial Theatre, is all about.

Dedicated to the memory of Bob Fosse, choreographer extraordinaire, Fosse is a collection of his best work. Bob Fosse (1927-1987) directed and choreographed many Broadway shows, movies and even television shows. In fact, in 1973 he became the first person ever to win all three majors awards: An Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy award all in the same year. Winning for the film version of Cabaret, the Broadway musical Pippin, and the TV special Liza with a Z, the Fosse style permeated the entertainment world.

His work on these and other projects has been recreated by Chet Walker and Ann Reinking (1997 Tony Award winner for Best Choreographing in Chicago) and all put together in an evening of song and dance. Furthermore, adding to the number of talented persons associated with the show, his former wife, Gwen Verdon (winner of four Tony awards for various musicals, including Damn Yankees) served as the "artistic advisor."

Fosse is a musical review of a myriad of dance numbers in three acts. Thus, it is sort of like having three lectures in a row in the same place, with a 10 minute break for every 50 spent sitting attentively. But, I promise, it's much more entertaining than most lectures.

The show is broken down into five parts: Influences, Hollywood, New York, Complexities, and the Finale (which is a huge, never ending dance to Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing"). There are 28 numbers in total without any dialogue. Personally, I felt the highlights of the production were the numbers I previously knew and could sing along with: Big Spender (Sweet Charity), Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, MO (Damn Yankees), Steam Heat (The Pajama Game), Nowadays (Chicago), Glory (Pippin), and Mein Herr (Cabaret). I guess knowing them added that extra oomph and made me enjoy those more. However, every number in the piece was spectacular (although occasionally near the end, they became a tad repetitious).

On a technical side, the show was as fabulous as one would expect from a Broadway musical. The lighting was intense and detailed. Also detailed, the sets were recreated from the various shows and movies and added very well to the overall ambience. However, there were a few glitches in the sound during the third act which were starting to get a little annoying, but thankfully were fixed within a few minutes.

I would have preferred a little more song with the dance, but it was still enjoyable. The best act by far was the third one because all of the numbers were sung as well as danced. Unfortunately, when you cast a show for dancing, there won't be as many strong singers. Don't get me wrong - everyone in the show sang beautifully, especially the lead singer, Valarie Pettiford. But at some times a stronger belter would have been nice; during "Razzle, Dazzle," the wonderful second act show stopper from Chicago which uses huge feather boas to create many designs, I found myself longing for a better singer. Of course, after seeing the Tony winning performance of James Naughton on Broadway, any other performance seems just a tiny bit lacking.

Overall, Fosse was a wonderful, exciting show. It's definitely a great thing to do on a Friday night. I urge everyone to try and go see it this last weekend before it makes its way to Broadway. There are student tickets available for only $20 (tickets are normally $45-60) for every performance, except Saturday night. They start selling one hour before show time. A group of us got there around 6 for an 8:00 performance, and we were the third group on line. According to this couple ahead of me trying to get the senior citizen tickets (same price as students), there were more people there on Tuesday night (probably because most people assumed that'd be the least crowded night). In any case, they could not get the tickets on Tuesday since they forgot their senior citizen ID's. So the moral of that story is don't forget to bring your MIT ID, because they are very strict about who they will give the tickets to. It's one ticket per one valid ID. Don't miss this great show!