The Craptacular: Remedial Queens: The Five “Bs” of Bob Fosse

Originally published on The Craptacular.

Even though Bob Fosse’s been dead longer than many of our readers have been alive, I can’t imagine that anyone here doesn’t have at least a passing familiarity with his work. After all, two of his signature shows (Pippin and Chicago) are currently running on Broadway, each in a hit revival received even more enthusiastically than the original. And what do those revivals have in common? Both took great pains to create choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” including recreating Fosse’s own steps for big numbers in each – “The Manson Trio” (the dance break in “Glory”) in Pippin and “Hot Honey Rag” in Chicago. With no disrespect to the other great choreographers of Broadway, while original dances from De Mille, Robbins, and Bennett have been recreated, no one else created a style so recognizable and enviable that people today still strive to work (and market their work as) “in the style of” anyone other than Fosse.

Given Fosse’s enduring popularity and fascinating personal life—more on that in a sec—I predict that Sam Wasson’s excellent new biography will be as in demand as Pippin tickets. The 700-page opus takes us from Fosse’s funeral back to his childhood dancing in the slimiest burlesque houses Chicago had to offer, through the romances and bromances of the showman who made history as the first (and still only) to win the best director Oscar, Tony, and Emmy awards all within a year. Continue reading

Fynsworth Alley: Donna McKechnie

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

donna mckechnieDonna McKechnie is best known for her Tony Award winning performance as Cassie in A Chorus Line, but her career has spanned four decades, from her start in the chorus of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying all the way through the upcoming Broadway revival of Mack and Mabel. She made her first big splash as a featured dancer on the television show Hullabaloo, where she met Michael Bennett, with whom she would create memorable dances in Promises, Promises, Company, A Chorus Line and more. In recent years, Donna has starred in State Fair on Broadway, Follies at the Papermill Playhouse, and Mack and Mabel as part of the Reprise concert series in Los Angeles. She is currently performing in her one-woman show, and she appears on the forthcoming Fynsworth Alley CD, You Never Know.

DL:When you were a little girl, what made you want to be a dancer?

DM: It was never a question for me. I guess I’m lucky that I didn’t need to grow up and go to college to wrestle with what I wanted to do with my life. Maggie’s story in A Chorus Line, in the song “At The Ballet” is my story. I used to dance around the living room with my imaginary Indian Chief. And it was never separated from the music; the music and the movement were both equally important to me. So my mother took me to ballet classes, and I eventually worked my way up from the little local classes to more serious classes. By the time I was in junior high, I was giving lessons to little girls in my basement. Sheila’s story in A Chorus Line is mine, too, watching The Red Shoes and being inspired by the girl with the red hair. From the time I saw that movie, I wanted to dance ballet.   Continue reading