At the Ahmanson Theater Livent Production's, "Fosse, a Celebration in Song and Dance" was conceived by Director Richard Maltby, Jr., Chet Walker, and Ann Reinking, with Artistic Advisor, Gwen Verdon. It's an arrangement of selections from the shows of the great Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse and present a scintillating portrait of his life and work. The dancing combines the elegance, athleticism, and grace of classical ballet with the urgency and raw sensuality of the style that symbolizes Broadway. The proscenium arch is a vibrant gold picture frame that would be very much at home with a Monet or Van Gogh in it. It's elegant and ornate, but simple. A portrait of Fosse is projected on a scrim covering the entire right half. A small replica of the arch, with lights around it is at the lower left with Valerie Pettiford singing to us that "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries." The portrait fades, the scrim rises, and everything starts to rock and shake in "Fosse's World" with Brad Musgrove, Jane Lanier, and the entire company, before the sultry, jazzy "Bye, Bye Blackbird." The pace quickens with "From the Edge" a lively number for three guys, before "Percussion 4" which is a spectacular solo danced by Desmond Richardson. He is like a mechanical man dancing with hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck in kinetic rhythms. The glittery "Big Spender" is next. We have two gilded curtains to layer the stage from front to back, with a chorus line of 10 girls in brightly colored costumes and light effects. They are draped on, over, and around a big ballet barre at the front of the stage in this deliciously sassy number from "Sweet Charity." After a smooth ethereal synthesizer interlude, we wrap up the first act with the tremendous soft shoe "I Wanna Be a Dancin' Man." The 16 singing dancers are all in white with skimmers as they do jumps and high leg kicks in unison, against a gold backdrop in this tightly choreographed, athletic number.
The Second Act opens with "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo" from "Damn Yankees." A chorus line of ball players do backflips, jumps, and upperbody half-cartwheels. The glitzy "Dancing in the Dark" is lavender on black with a star studded background. Temperatures rise with "Steam Heat" as the high stepping Jane Lanier, Michael Paternostro, and Alex Sanchez hiss and glide across the stage. We reach a fever pitch of passionately pulsating rhythms bathed in red violet light in "I Gotcha." The slinky "Dancin' Dan (Me and my Shadow)" from "Big Deal" features Eugene Fleming practically wearing his shadows, Kim Morgan Green, and Dana Moore in this sultry number, which gives way to top hats and batons in "Nowadays" and "The Hot Honey Rag" from "Chicago." We have blue pinwheels on a background seen through a tapestry of shafts of soft red and green light.
In Act 3, "Manson Trio" gives us a dark look through history at the body count of four great wars: the Crusades, The War of the Roses, and World Wars I and II. At the back of the stage a panel opens to points of light as seven Nazi clad girls strut their stuff in "Mein Herr" from "Cabaret." Scott Wise is joined by two girls with feathery fans in "Razzle Dazzle" and the flamingoes are then joined by nine more for "Who's Sorry Now." Sergio Trujillo's "Mr. Bojangles" is a melancholy tramp in the hauntingly elegant number from "Dancin'," sung by Andy Blankenbuehler. Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" with the fabulous Fosse Orchestra, flashing lights, and the entire cast wraps up this high voltage tribute to the great Bob Fosse. "Fosse, a Celebration in Song and Dance" continues at The Ahmanson Theater at the LA Music Center through December 6, before it's Broadway opening on January 14, 1999 at The Broadhurst Theater.