80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2002
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.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2004
If you've read all 37 reviews so far, I guess you're a Fosse fan. You will know who's in the DVD and what numbers they do, but I think it will be the most helpful here to say what not to expect. Except for nostalgic short appearances by Reinking, (way past her brilliant prime) and embarrassing interferences by Vereen, there are no original cast performers. Don't yearn for something you may have seen on Broadway years ago or even this show when it was fresher and live on stage.
What you will see is Fosse's work done better than even he could do it. These are professionals at their finest, tireless, versatile, energetic and able to show to best advantage all the subtleties and drive of Fosse's limitless invention. The lighting is perfect and the camera work magical. I don't know they did it with a live show with no chance for retakes. I've danced in Musicals in Hollywood in the 50's and later directed television and in my opinion this is the best you'll ever see of Fosse's work.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2005
I don't think some reviewers understood that this is a taped performance several months before the show closed. Ben Vereen was inserted, undoubtedly, to sell tickets, as was Bebe Neuwirth, who was added even later, for the same purpose. The original cast, some of whom can be seen in this DVD (Dana Moore, Rachelle Rak, Eugene Fleming, Marc Calamia, among others) had the benefit of a pre-casting workshop, and, of course, the ensemble work was a bit sharper. You're never seeing the "best" version of a show two and a half-years later. There will always be a slight dropoff in talent, and unless the original director frequently comes back to keep performers to their paces, the overall effect will fray a bit with time. Still, I can't disagree more with some negative reviewers. A two-left feet dancer myself,I was astonished by the ensemble work herein. With as many as 18 bodies filling the stage at times, moving in all directions and at breakneck speed, I don't know how these great performers can be so well-synchronized, or for that matter how nobody ever turns the wrong way. Actors have cue cards and prompters, but dancers are up there on a stage all alone. They are the hardest working people in show business and the heart and soul of musicals. Some reviewers refer to a paucity of vocal talent in the DVD, and here I reluctantly agree. I saw "Fosse" shortly after it opened, and the best female singers, Valerie Pettitford (a belter who would do Merman proud) and Jane Lanier, weren't adequately replaced. Also missed is Kim Morgan Greene, a good singer and sensational dancer. (If this is the same woman who appears in lots of cheesy films and TV shows, and it sure looks like her, she was ill-advised not to pursue a Broadway career. With her talent and looks she would have become a star.) Fosse directed/choreographed so many hit Broadway shows it must have been hard for the show's creators (Reinking, Richard Maltby and Chet Walker) to decide what made the cut, but I'm surprised nothing from several of his biggest successes, like "How to Succeed.." and "Little Me" survived the workshop process. Also, I wonder why "Dancin' Dan(Me and My Shadow)" is the only number not included on the DVD. As performed by Eugene Fleming, Dana Moore and Kim Morgan Greene, it received one of the loudest ovations of the evening. Time constraints can't be an issue since the piece only lasted about three minutes. These cavils aside, I recommend this DVD in the strongest possible terms. You'll see a very strong representation of the great Fosse's work, and a living tribute to Broadway's "gypsies," the gifted but often overlooked dancers whohere get a chance to step out front and shine, and do they! I wish producers would take a new look at a veteran performer like Dana Moore, who can sing, dance, act, and has looks and personality, and see a lead actress, not an ensemble member. Younger performers like Dylis Cromer (understudy to the lead in "Sweet Charity" as I write this) and Meg Gillentine, I believe, will get to see their names "above the title" on Broadway marquees for sure. Those who counsel buying the DVD of "All That Jazz" and/or "Sweet Charity" to better appreciate Fosse's work couldn't be more wrong. This DVD provides an overview of most of his exceptionally innovative and creative career and contains fully 80 minutes of mostly thrilling performances. As I wrote earlier, I'm a klutz and have always said "I Won't Dance, Don't Make Me," but I never appreciated the art of theatrical dancing until I saw this show and then bought the DVD, which I watch often. You will too. P.S. My computer has lately failed to indent for new paragraphs. To anyone who persisted through this mass of black type, I apologize.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2002
Bob Fosse choreographed so many beautiful and clever dances. With a group of talented dancers, who are equally talented as singers and actors, the magic of Fosse comes to life. Ben Vereen is great. He gives a wonderful performance- he acts, sings and dances number after number. In "Bye Bye Blackbird" he sings and dances with joy and passion, and you can feel that Fosse is in his soul. In "Mr. Bojangles" he is very moving.
But my million dollar question is: where is Ms. Reinking? She has a great entrance in "Fosse's World" and "Big Spender" - and that's it! I really wanted to see her in "Nowadays" and in the "Hot Honey Rag" which she performed in "Chicago" in 1997 on Broadway. I wanted to see her do "There'll Be Some Changes Made" from "All That Jazz" as well. Don't get me wrong - the other performers who did those numbers were great, especially: Dylis Croman, Meg Gillentine, Rachelle Rak, and Dana Moore. The guys are great too, especially: Ken Alan and Edwaard Liang. They dance beautifully, with great acting ability that makes thier performance so amazing.
In conclusion, I would say that everybody that loves Fosse's works and musicals should buy this DVD, even though the amazing Reinking didn't perform so much.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2002
I am completely appalled and angered by the previous review. Obviously this person understands little about the theater and should not be misleading those who do and have not seen this great film yet. Ben Vereen and Ann Reinking are THE original Fosse stars--they could come on for two seconds and wave for all I could care. They will always have that star aura and power about them, and they deserve credit for still getting up and dancing after so many years. I will admit Ann did only come on for a few performances, but she was not there to be the star of the show. I think her being in those few numbers was so she could dance them one last time--its time for her to pass on her knowledge to the next generation.
The costuming is authentic to the original shows/ movies and they capture the way Fosse wanted his girls : legs that went on for days. Granted Fosse's method's probably wouldn't have worked nowadays, but this show isn't about now: it is a showcase about the era when all of this was possible,and the man who took dance to a new level. Whoever wrote the previous review needs to take Bob's advice : "Life is just a bowl of cherries". Sometimes you need to enjoy "art for art's sake" and stop evaluating dance like you would with anything else.
All the numbers seem to brought to life again for the first time, including ones that can not be seen in his movie musicals. I once heard that Fosse claimed to have only used 10 steps in all his choreography and its interesting in the string of dances to see the similarities. Personally my favorites are "Steam Heat" from the Pajama Game and "The Rich Man's Frug" from Sweet Charity. The frug is especially well done and it is an exact replica of the movie, except of course Ben Vereen doing his little split and "oh yeah" like in the movie. I think it would have been a little bit much to ask him to try to do it again.
I highly recommend buying this performance, but please: before you knock it get some background of Fosse's work if you didnt like this performance. Sweet Charity, Pippin, and Cabaret are good movies to start with, and they capture the true heart of the world of Fosse. Hey but what do I know? I'm only a sixteen year old....
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2003
I HAVE HAD THE LUXURY OF SEEING "FOSSE" ON BROADWAY ABOUT THREE TIMES AND ITS JUST A FOSSE THING---EITHER YOU "GET THE CHOREOGRAPHY" OR YOU DONT RECOGNIZE THAT "UNIQUE" FOSSE ALL THE WAY.
IF YOU ARE FUELED BY FOSSE AS I HAVE BEEN MAY I SUGGEST:
"ALL THAT JAZZ" MOVIE DVD ABOUT FOSSE'S LIFE.
"A CHORUS LINE" MOVIE DVD ABOUT FOSSE'S SUCCESS ON BROADWAY AND THEN THE SUBSEQUENT MOVIE.
"CHICAGO" WHICH I HAVE ALSO SEEN THREE TIMES ON BROADWAY AND NOW THE MOVIE DVD.
FOSSE FAN, OUT IN TINY WHEATLAND WYOMING:)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2002
I have been having a wonderful time with the DVD version of Fosse. I saw it performed on Broadway, and enjoyed it greatly, but I love the DVD version even more. Seeing the entire production from beginning to end can be a little overwhelming. It's like overdosing on Fosse. When you see a play he choreographed, like Chicago, or Pippin, then you have those amazing dance numbers intersperced inside the book and songs. In the theater, an evening of all-Fosse-dance-numbers was like being a child at loose in a candystore. It's all delicious, but you end up with a stomach ache. On DVD you get to select the dances you want to see, and watch however much you want at a time, and it is absolutely wonderful. I never watch the whole thing, but there are sections I watched every morning upon awakening to give me a push to get on with the day. For this reason definitely buy the DVD version and not the VHS version. Also, in order to have it preserve itself for a long while. You'll want to watch this in another 50 years or pass it down to your children. I think that the camera was beautifully directed to really gives you a feeling of each number, and the dancers are absolutely superb. Ben Vereen is getting old and can't dance the way he used to, but it's a delight to have him around anyway, and thrilling to hear him sing again. The young dancers are astonishingly good. If you want to know what is amazing about Broadway dance, then buy this DVD.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2002
This DVD is an incredibly high quality preservation of Bob Fosse's choreographic body of work. Anyone who is a fan of dance, a student of dance, or someone even remotely interested in the evolution of dance on Broadway, has GOT to add this one to their collection... It features many passionate, atheletic, and precise performances from a great cast of dancer/singers, with Ben Vereen and Anne Reinking as the icing on the cake.
Incidentally, get the DVD. The sound is fantastic, the image quality (shot on high definition video) is too. And if you don't have a DVD player, GET ONE! If there's any reason to have one, this is it!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2002
While not as good as the original cast I saw on Broadway a few weeks after the opening of FOSSE, this DVD is definitely enjoyable. However, it is very misleading to give Ann Reinking star billing as her appearance is extremely brief. One doesn't doubt the connection of Reinking to Bob Fosse and many of his works but she was NOT the original star of ANY of his stage works.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2004
First off , Fosse style of dance is amazing. I was privelaged to have by chance been at the show the very day they filmed this, and OH MY GOSH it was electric. Ben Vereen was incredible and Anne Reinking, well do I really need to say anymore? This should be in every musical lovers collection!