The walk from the parking lot to the IU Auditorium last night was bitter cold, but inside the cast of “Fosse,” a hot group of two dozen dancer/singers and a nine-piece orchestra, met with a warmly appreciative and varied crowd.
“Fosse” is a collection of scenes and musical numbers that span the long career of innovative choreographer and director Bob Fosse. The show is in dramatic and not historical order, but it does cover his long career. The scenes range from the “Steam Heat” scene of “Pajama Game” in 1954 through “Hey Big Spender” from “Sweet Charity” in 1966, to “Mein Herr” from “Cabaret” in 1972, to “Razzle Dazzle’ from “Chicago” in 1975, and finally to “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” from Fosse’s last work, “Big Deal” in 1986.
Part of the pleasure in watching the young, talented cast at the IU Auditorium, was seeing the variety of shapes, sized and even styles on display. There’s plenty of athleticism in the group and the company for “Fosse” can come together with precision when it has to, but there’s a general feeling of looseness and even independence that worked well in many of the numbers.
Bob Fosse’s signature elements, the slick, fluid moves, the sharp isolations, the aggressive attitude even the hunched shoulders and the pushed pelvis’s were very much on display in the show. Although it is deeply grounded in a strong ballet technique and acrobatic ability, Fosse’s choreography sometimes thumbs its nose at the traditions. “Fosse” at the Auditorium certainly showed that his dances don’t lack atmosphere and their own grace, but they are frequently funnier a little rougher and a bit bawdier than much of Broadway. The concentrated dose of Bob Fosse’s choreography helped me to appreciate just how much I take his work for granted. It has become such a part of the fabric of American Musical Theatre.
“Fosse” is on stage at the IU Auditorium for one more performance, tonight at eight o’clock.