Bob Fosse was, of course, one of the finest director-choreographers in Broadway history, a visionary who created some of the most distinctive and sexiest stage choreography of all time, and a rare director who was equally at home on stage or on film. This revue built out of his classic numbers had its share of detractors when it originally came out on Broadway, but it takes some historical background to understand why. The fact is that for all its virtues, it relied heavily on recycled material, which may not seem like a big deal now but was part of a perceived destructive trend on Broadway at the time.
Nonetheless, this show and the video recording that was made of it is both sensational entertainment and a priceless resource. It mixes the staples of Fosse’s repertoire (“Steam Heat”, “Hey, Big Spender”, “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag”) with some lesser-known gems, including several selections from Fosse’s largely forgotten last two Broadway outings, Big Deal and Dancin’. These selections are performed by a superb corps headed up by two of Fosse’s favorite star dancers, Ann Reinking (who also recreated his choreography for the show) and Ben Vereen. The dancing is done immeasurable justice, and the sung portions are surprisingly compelling, particularly those featuring Vereen, who bookends the show by singing a heartbreaking rendition of “Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries”.
On the DVD, we get some backstage reminiscence about the man by Vereen and Reinking between the acts, which is utterly fascinating in its own right. Don’t listen to the outdated complaints by the naysayers from back when this show was on Broadway…this show was a glorious tribute to one of Broadway’s greatest geniuses, and I cannot think of a video release I would consider more essential for any and all Broadway fans than the DVD of this show. If you love Broadway and don’t already own it, go buy it. Now.