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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ review: A rapturous Broadway homage

TNS Choreographer-director Bob Fosse is surrounded by some of his dancers as they celebrate the second anniversary of “Dancin’,” Fosse’s musical on Broadway in New York City on March 27, 1980. Fosse, center, is shown with performers, from left, Eileen Casey, Katherine Meloche, Gail Mae Ferguson, Gail Benedict, original cast member and Christine Colby.

It’s hard to believe, but Bob Fosse’s definitive signature musical “Dancin’” has never been revived on Broadway since its Tony Award-winning debut in 1978. Huge kudos, then, to director-choreographer Wayne Cilento, for creating a new Broadway revival that both honors its source and shares his own inspirational ardor.

Although it famously has no plot, Fosse’s groundbreaking show does, indeed, have a story.

It’s the love story of a dancer and his dance. This production even has a backstory, because Cilento also performed in the original production. This is Cilento’s rapturous—and extremely personal—homage to a great showpiece by a great choreographer.

But what you really want to know is: Does this revival preserve the familiar Fosse moves, or does it monkey around with them? As a matter of fact, the show, which originated at the Old Globe in San Diego, faithfully honors them all, from the teacup-fingers and the tip-of-the-bowler to the sexy hip swivels and the gravity-defying back kicks. And here’s the thing: They still make us swoon.

After a short-and-sweet prologue delivered by Manuel Herrera and quickly followed by the company number “Crunchy Granola Suite,” the show gets down to business with “Mr. Bojangles.” Jacob Guzman really puts his heart into the immortal role of that old dancing man, William Jefferson Williams.

There’s a wonderful suite of “Big City” dances in Act I featuring “Big Noise from Winnetka” (with Tony d’Alelio, Mattie Love and Nando Morland) that builds to the “Big Spender” we’ve been dying for. Costumers Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung deliver the appropriately tacky-sexy rags for this and other Big Bad City numbers that find the dancers leaping from a bookstore to a massage parlor and all the funky backstreets in between.

Benny Goodman opens Act II with a rousing “Sing, Sing, Sing” that gives the band a chance to work its chops, as and gives dancer Kolton Krouse a chance to show off, too. And on it goes to the driving “Big Deal” suite that ends the show.

For some magical, mystical reason, the dancers at the end of the show still look as fresh as daisies, despite the incredible workout they get in this jam-packed act. This is one rock-solid company of dancin’ fools. Fosse would be proud.


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