Fosse/Verdon: Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know
Anticipation is high for Fosse/Verdon, the upcoming FX limited series about the tempestuous romantic and creative partnership between Broadway legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. The cast is impressive — Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams star in the title roles — and the producing staff includes Dear Evan Hansen book writer Steven Levenson and Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail.
While the show doesn't premiere until April 9 at 10pm, TheaterMania got a sneak peek at the first two episodes. Without giving away spoilers, here's what we learned — and what you can keep an eye out for.
1. The arc of Fosse/Verdon spans multiple decades, often in the same episode.
Like Fosse's autobiographical film All That Jazz, the storytelling of Fosse/Verdon is nonlinear. While mostly focused on the period of time in which Fosse was shooting the screen adaptation of Cabaret in 1971, there are flashes backward and forward in time to flesh out the romantic and creative partnership of the title characters. The series goes as far back as Fosse's pressure-filled youth as a touring dancer in Chicago (Broadway's Rick Holmes plays Fred Weaver, his exacting mentor) and as far ahead as moments before his death in 1987. It also makes stops at crucial moments, like the bourgeoning days of his and Verdon's relationship while he was still married to Joan McCracken (played by Susan Misner).
2. There are a lot of musical numbers from throughout Fosse's career.
And not only are they fully staged, they're re-created in painstakingly authentic detail. The pilot, titled "Life Is a Cabaret" (April 9), contains two: "Big Spender" from the film version of Sweet Charity, and "Mein Herr" from the screen adaptation of Cabaret (the latter is led by the extraordinary Kelli Barrett, who plays Liza Minnelli). The second episode, "Who's Got the Pain?" (April 16), features re-creations of both that iconic number (with Verdon taking center stage) and "Heart" from Damn Yankees.
3. The series features stage stars galore — in crucial roles and cameo appearances.
We already know some of the biggies who are regulars on the series: the aforementioned Barrett as Minnelli, two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz as the screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, longtime Chicago vet Bianca Marroquin as Chita Rivera, and Aya Cash as Joan Simon. But eagle-eyed viewers will also spot Tony nominees Ethan Slater (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Joel Grey, Laura Osnes (Bandstand) as Shirley MacLaine, and Brandon Uranowitz (Burn This) as Dustin Hoffman, alongside Broadway regulars Tyler Hanes (Cats) as Jerry Orbach, Byron Jennings (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as George Abbott, Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Lysistrata Jones) as Leland Palmer, Nick Blaemire (Falsettos) in the ensemble of Damn Yankees, and many more.
4. If you love musical-theater references, Fosse/Verdon is the show for you.
The characters in Fosse/Verdon are of a very specific milieu, and the references are fast, furious, and niche. If you are able to figure out whom and what shows Evan Handler's Harold Prince and Michelle Williams's Gwen are referencing when they discuss "Steve's new musical" (Sondheim, Company) and her being the only one to like "the one he did with Dick" (Rodgers, Do I Hear a Waltz?), this is the show for you.
5. The Fosse/Verdon hair, costumes, and makeup teams are outdoing themselves.
Let's give major credit to costumer Melissa Toth, makeup designer Debbie Zoller, and hair department head Christopher Fulton for transforming recognizable actors into the spitting images of the real-life figures they're playing.