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A "Dancical" If You Will
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Date: 04/12/03, updated on 04/12/03 (165 review reads)
Advantages: Theatre in general is good
Disadvantages: Fosse in particular is not
Fosse is the latest touring musical to hit Manchester's Opera House, and learning of this fact a few months ago, we booked tickets to see it. My visit was a week ago, but despite my usual efficiency in finishing off reviews, this is only being put up now because it's taken me this long to work out what I really thought of the show.
Bob Fosse was an American choreographer who died in 1987, and this show is a tribute to his work. It features 24 numbers from his greatest hits including Cabaret, Sweet Charity and Dancin', most of which are include singing. What I wasn't that keen on, though, was the way they had "transition" periods in between where a few of the cast would perform a modern, interpretative dance, while others were obviously backstage getting changed or catching their breath. I appreciate that you sometimes need linking pieces, but these seemed rather stuck in any where rather than neatly inserted at an appropriate place in the program. The songs they did do included well-known ones such as "Mein Herr" and "Razzle Dazzle", along with the less famous "Cool Hand Luke" and "Bye Bye Blackbird". For some random reason they also did one of the songs ("Life is just a bowl full of cherries") twice - once at the start of the first act and then later towards the end of the second. It might just be me, but live theatre is not somewhere I normally expect to be shown repeated work
The dancers were good but not outstanding - several got out of time several times, which you don't really expect from a show with such a focus on dancing, and one this far into a tour. I'd quite liked to have seen the state of their opening night, in an evil sort of way. Equally, the singers were in tune and projected well, but none really shone. None of this would have mattered if the show had had a good storyline to go with it, but it didn't - it was set up in a revue style,
with no clear linkage from one number to the next, and because all you had left to focus on were the dancing and singing abilities, the mistakes were more obvious. The choreography was good, but the best written scripts don't automatically make for well acted plays, and the same is true for dancing.
I found it seemed to be a half-hearted sort of show. For example, for most of the way through they stuck to their guns with regards to scenery or lack thereof, but in a couple of numbers they wheeled out big pieces of set with seemed quite pointless given the absence of similar pieces in all other routines. Also, in all but one of the numbers their costumes were nothing but black. And, in a classy, minimalist kinda way, that was nice. But for some reason during "Big Spender" the girls came out in colourful dresses. Finally, the backdrops were perhaps a little too eye catching - they sparkled and swirled in an enticing way, but I couldn't help feeling they got more attention than the dancers at times. I don't suppose it's all that important, but it seemed rather odd to me.
Calling Fosse a musical seems wrong because it's like no other musical I've ever seen, so perhaps the term "Dancical" should be coined for this production. I'm glad I've seen it if only to know not to ever want to again, but if you're after a general, non-specialist night out, I think you'd be disappointed. Even those who enjoy dance in general, as I do, might not think it worth the money. But, if you're more of a dance buff than me though, visit www.fossethemusical.com for tour dates, cast bios and so on.
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