Hello again, blog lovers! I hope everyone has had a good week! Brief life update for myself; I’m doing my first musical in five years! I’m really excited to get back into the theatre game, especially in such an iconic show: Pippin! The timing couldn’t have been better, because this week’s review is on the premiere episode of the new FX series, Fosse/Verdon, starring Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. Let’s get into it!
For those who don’t know who either of these people are, here’s a (very brief) history lesson. Bob Fosse was (and still is) one of the best choreographers that Broadway or film ever saw. You may have heard of his directorial work in little movies like Cabaret or Sweet Charity, or as a Broadway choreographer for The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Sweet Charity, Chicago, and, of course, Pippin. He won an Academy Award for his direction of Cabaret and 9 Tonys over the course of his career. He most likely would have won more and achieved greater accolades, but Fosse tragically died of a heart attack at age 60 in 1987.
Gwen Verdon was Fosse’s creative partner, lover, wife (for the last 27 years of his life), and, some say, his muse. She is still regarded as one of the greatest dancers to ever live. She won 4 Tony Awards during her career, the most famous of which being for her performance of the stage version of Damn Yankees. She and Fosse had wed in 1960, had their daughter Nicole together, and separated in 1971, but never formally divorced.
The show itself focuses on the lives of both Bob and Gwen, their careers, and their tumultuous relationship in the face of show business. The timeline also frequently jumps around, showing flashes of their younger and older selves over time. The first episode focused on the making of the movies Sweet Charity and Cabaret and the struggles Fosse and Verdon went through to get the movies made. It also showed Fosse’s demons, as you see him often taking medication and having affairs with other women.
The acting so far is truly incredible, especially in the cases of Rockwell and Williams. Rockwell really embodies Fosse. Audiences have seen him do some light dancing in other movies, but this really takes it to the next level. The same goes for Michelle Williams, who is no stranger to Fosse choreography after playing Sally Bowles in the most recent Broadway revival of Cabaret. She looks and dances lovely, but there is a continuous air of sadness around her, which works beautifully for her character.
Of course, I have to point out the dancing in the show as well. It is SPOT on. I was able to spy a few familiar Broadway faces in the ensemble and with smaller characters (thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who co-produced this with Tommy Kail.) They chose some of Fosse’s most iconic movie scenes, like “Big Spender” and “Mein Herr” and man, did they do it justice. It was shot-for-shot like the movie and the dancers were beautiful.
I will definitely be tuning in for next week’s episode, Tuesday at 10 pm on FX! Join us…
Until next time, blog lovers!