Bob Fosse & Gwen Verdon at Work

Gwen Verdon appeared in seven Broadway musicals in her illustrious career, winning four Tony Awards in the process (in four consecutive Broadway outings, no less).  Her stardom came with a supporting role in Can-Can, choreographed by Michael Kidd. Her specialty dances stopped the show cold, so cold that on opening night she had already changed out of her costume when she was taken onstage for a bow in her robe. However, for the rest of her musical career, Verdon worked explicitly with Bob Fosse, whom she would also marry. The combination of auteur and star worked – Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town (a musical adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie), Redhead, Sweet Charity and Chicago were all hits. Even after they separated, they remained incredibly close and continued to collaborate. For the 20th anniversary revival of Sweet Charity, Verdon was credited as Fosse’s assistant and after his death continued to champion his legacy.

The duo made a TV appearance in 1962 where Fosse was discussing his approach to choreography and acting through song. He and Verdon discuss the set up to her iconic “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees and then she performs the number using him as her scene partner. The process is fascinating, and the execution is exquisite.


Strike Three, Ball Four…

The Encores! Summer Stars series has taken an interesting turn of events with the casting of my beloved Jane Krakowski as Lola in a revival of Damn Yankees. Trying to find a replacement for the legendary Gwen Verdon is virtually impossible, but I think that Krakowski is an exemplary choice. The only reason I decided to mention this is that 30 Rock came back tonight and she was woefully absent from the hilarious take on reality TV competitions (MILF Island? Oh yes). Sean Hayes will be playing Applegate (the role originated by the incomparable Ray Walston to Tony-winning effect). No word yet on Meg or Joe Hardy.

Also back was a phenomenally awkward and exceptionally written episode of The Office that showcases a dinner party at which George and Martha would balk. It’s been months… and such welcome relief amid all those terrible reality shows that, well, just suck. Thank God the writer’s strike is over. Now all we have to do is fear the potential actor’s strike. Great. Good. Excellent.

“You are! She is! She is the devil! I’m in hell! Blahhh, I’m burning! Help me!”
~Michael Scott

Oh, and I must offer congratulations to Moon Lady on the arrival of her latest little love Camilla!!!