The groundbreaking, modern choreography of Bob Fosse (1927-1987) has at all times been distinctive and exhilarating.
“Bob Fosse’s Dancin,’” the brand new revival of his 1978 all-dance musical manufacturing, now in a restricted six-week, pre-Broadway run at The Outdated Globe, delivers the products. After which some.
The dancin’ is sizzling stuff: regularly horny, steamy, sinewy. Filled with Fosse signatures: the hunched shoulders, turned-in knees, white-gloved jazz-hands, canes, chairs, hats (bowlers, boaters, fedoras!), and the ha-cha, razzle-dazzle Broadway angle.
There’s additionally so a lot more: stratospheric leaps, leg extensions and high-kicks; jaw-dropping athletic/balletic numbers; bluesy-jazzy strikes; even marches and a faucet regimen. All from a corps of 20 improbable dancers who too can sing and act. Triple-threats, certainly.
The song, orchestrated via Jim Abbott and elegantly performed via 14 instrumentalists (beneath the baton of song director/keyboardist Darryl Archibald), is wide-ranging, too: from pop (Neil Diamond’s “Crunchy Granola Suite”) to nation (Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles”) to classical (French composer Edgard Varèse’s “Ionisation”) to Americana (Patrick Gilmore’s “When Johnny Comes Marching House,” George Frederick Root’s “Rally Around the Flag,” and John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Ceaselessly”).
The manufacturing comprises garish colours and eye-searing lights (David Grill); instructive/ornamental video backgrounds (designed via Finn Ross), projected on a 50’x30’ wall; and constantly-changing, body-baring, bespangled or diaphanous costumes (Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung). Two hours and 20 mins of all this multisensory stimulation looks like an excessive amount of of a just right factor.
Director/musical stager Wayne Cilento, who used to be nominated for a Tony Award when he used to be a featured dancer within the Fosse unique, is attempting to be true to Fosse’s conception and choreography. However the additions and makes an attempt at making the piece extra related as an alternative really feel superfluous, misplaced and time.
From the instant the Emcee (attractive Manuel Herrera) emerges between the mega-sized business steel scaffolding (scenic clothier, former San Diegan and Sledgehammer Theatre co-founder Robert Brill), we’re made conscious that we’re in for one thing completely other: “a nearly plotless musical… with out a villains, no baritone heroes, no orphanages, no Christmas timber, no messages.” That were given a large ovation the night time I used to be there.
The frenetic first act has a decidedly ‘70s sensibility — and that’s suitable, because it used to be the overdue ‘70s when Fosse premiered the piece, which ran on Broadway for 4 years, and used to be nominated for seven Tony Awards, successful two: for Fosse’s choreography and Jules Fisher’s lights. The only phase that used to be jettisoned via Fosse after one out-of-town efficiency, “Large Town Mime,” is probably the most irritating and frenzied.
Issues take a flip in the second one act, the place the updates come into play (credited to textual content marketing consultant Kirsten Childs, who seemed in brief within the unique manufacturing), together with a “racially delicate” “Mr. Bojangles,” a gratuitous press interview with “Bob Fosse”; using a mobile phone; point out of the Bechdel Take a look at (Do greater than two ladies communicate to one another, and do they speak about one thing rather then males? The solution here’s No); and an archival video montage of American historical past (titled “The usa?”), interested by political figures, protests and civil rights abuses, and culminating with inspiring phrases from the younger poet Amanda Gorman on the Biden inauguration. However why is that essential? There’s not anything else political within the display.
The collection that at the start featured 4 ladies who uncover they’re all in love with the similar awful, untrue man (now it’s 3 ladies and a person who’re evaluating notes), is a susceptible try to inject some sense of narrative or, with the aforementioned mobile phone, an attraction to “woke” more youthful audiences.
Girls aren’t given a lot company right here general, despite the fact that Ioana Alfonso is featured in “The Feminine Superstar Spot” and Khori Michelle Petinaud (the one dancer who’s given a reputation) will get to blow their own horns her bodily prowess (in “The Large Deal” phase) in addition to her sultry vocal chops, making a song the Ray Henderson/Lew Brown vintage, “Existence is Only a Bowl of Cherries.” Yani Marin has the ultimate, and takes a Fosse pose, on my own, in silhouette, on the finish of the night time.
The male dancers are supplied with a lot more showy issues to do. Standouts are Peter John Chursin, Kolton Krause, Jacob Guzman and Jovan Dansberry.
Fosse used to be a 9-time Tony winner (along with garnering an Oscar and a couple of Emmys, for presentations equivalent to “Chicago,” “Cabaret,” “Rattling Yankees” and “Pippin”).
He used to be undeniably a genius, tortured via inside demons, as we all know from his autobiographical movie, “All That Jazz,” and the new TV sequence, “Fosse/Verdon,” which confirmed how a lot credit score used to be due however in most cases denied his 3rd spouse, Gwen Verdon. Each that display and this new revival have been produced in cooperation with their daughter, Nicole Fosse.
Fosse liked to push the envelope, and push dancers to their limits. What’s lacking here’s the pointy precision and uniformity. Cilento has mentioned he sought after to present the dancers the liberty to make the strikes their very own. However the achieve in individuality is a lack of flawless synchronicity.
Like singers and Sondheim, now not everybody can carry out Fosse dances. However via all accounts, it’s a thrill to be able. You’ll be able to see pleasure, and once in a while even pressure, within the dancers. As target audience, you’ll relish the intricacy, selection and immediacy of his choreographic creations.
- “Bob Fosse’s Dancin’” runs at the Shiley Level at The Outdated Globe Theatre in Balboa Park thru Would possibly 29
- Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday
- Tickets (Beginning at $52) are to be had at 619-234-5623 or TheOldGlobe.org
- Working time: 2 hrs. 20 min (together with intermission)
- COVID Protocol: Evidence of vaccination and mask-wearing are not required, however mask are strongly beneficial within the theater.
Pat Launer, a member of the American Theatre Critics Affiliation, is a long-time San Diego arts creator and an Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of her previews and critiques can also be discovered at patlauner.com.