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Creator / Bob Fosse

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Robert Louis "Bob" Fosse (June 23, 1927 – September 23, 1987) was an American dancer, choreographer, theatre director, and film director. He won eight Tony Awards for choreography during his lifetime. He was also nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one for directing Cabaret. As a matter of fact, he is the only director to have won a Tony (for Pippin), an Emmy (for Liza with a Z), and an Oscar (for Cabaret) in the same year.

Known for his innovative choreography and use of subtext in his dances, Fosse choreographed such classic Broadway musicals as The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Productions he both choreographed and directed include Sweet Charity, Pippin (on which he also did some uncredited work on the script), and Chicago.

He appeared in the film versions of Kiss Me, Kate, Damn Yankees and The Little Prince.

His film All That Jazz (1979) is a semi-autobiographical look at his life and relationships. Fosse, a musical revue featuring his most famous dances, won the Tony award for Best Musical in 1999.

In 2019, FX aired a biographical mini-series called Fosse/Verdon with Sam Rockwell as Fosse and Michelle Williams as Fosse's wife and long-time collaborator Gwen Verdon.

     List of Works 

Tropes associated with Bob Fosse include:

  • All Musicals Are Adaptations/Screen-to-Stage Adaptation:
    • Sweet Charity is based on Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria (and subsequently, Fosse brought his version to the screen).
    • Cabaret was adapted from the stage musical, itself based on a set of short stories by Christopher Isherwood (collected in Goodbye To Berlin), as well as I Am A Camera, a 1951 play inspired by the Berlin stories.
    • Chicago is based on the 1924 nonmusical play by Maurine Dallas Watkins of the same name.
    • Big Deal is based on Mario Monicelli’s crime-comedy Big Deal on Madonna Street.
    • Dancin’, while not an direct adaptation, is more of a Pastiche of various dance styles Fosse was influenced by over the years.
  • Author Appeal:
    • His dances were often sexual and comical in nature, owing much to the cabarets of his youth. They had elements like turned-in knees, rolled-in shoulders, sideways shuffling, hip thrusts and jazz hands.
    • He freely mixed styles of dance, from overtly broad movements to tiny, intricate jerks of the body.
    • He also used white gloves, derbies and chairs as often as he could.
    • As a storyteller, he often focused on those who try to become greater than themselves, usually through artistic achievement, entertainment or fame-seeking. They examine the foibles of the human condition and society as a whole, more often than not cynically. He’ll keep the audience entertained before giving them some severe Mood Whiplash somewhere down the line.
  • Author Avatar: Joe Gideon from All That Jazz is the most blatant example, but Fosse asserted that the majority of his heroes were extensions of himself.
  • Biopic: Both of his non-musical films were biopics, both relating to artists and the struggle between fame and their art.
  • Black Comedy: His sense of humor is this through and through, with some snarking tendencies on top.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A ton of his works certainly lean on it, but Pippin balls-out demolishes the damn wall.
  • Copiously Credited Creator: He was a director, writer, choreographer, producer and occasional actor for film, theatre and television, often with multiple productions going on at once.
  • Diegetic Music: One of his big innovations for the movie musical were that the musical numbers were always in a different reality or venue from the “real world” of the film, whether that be through the Kit Kat Klub in Cabaret or as seen through imagine spots in All That Jazz.
  • Glory Seeker: The main hallmark of a Fosse hero. Fosse himself is a major example, as throughout his life, as he always felt the need to top whatever he did before him.
  • Iconic Item: The derbies and white gloves, with the chair at a close second.
  • Italian Films: Sweet Charity and Big Deal are adaptations of Italian classics, while All That Jazz owes a great deal to Fellini's , to the point where he got the former's regular cinematographer to work on the film.
  • Mood Whiplash: One of his very favorite tricks. You can never go into a Fosse production without having the rug pulled from under you emotionally.
  • The Musical: His bread and butter.
  • The Perfectionist: Fosse was constantly reworking and refining his productions to the finest detail. The precision of the editing, the wrinkle on a fabric, even the position of a finger didn’t go unnoticed by his eye.
  • Self-Deprecation: All That Jazz is practically a masterclass in self-flagellation.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Fosse’s work got increasingly cynical as time went on, but often had occasional glimmers of optimism.
  • Vaudeville: A major influence on the Fosse style, as his dances were filled with the pratfalls, double-takes and slapsticky qualities of the medium.
  • Work Hard, Play Hard: A workaholic throughout his life, Fosse would supplement his meticulous work schedule with hardcore, party lifestyle included more booze, sex and pills than most people would get in a lifetime.
  • Working with the Ex: Gwen Verdon eventually left Fosse thanks to his womanizing and self-destruction, though they stayed legally married. She continued to work with him for the rest of their lives, and he died in her arms while they were working on a revival of Sweet Charity.