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“Chicago” 1975 commercial…

I stumbled upon this treat on YouTube, which made my day.

This is a commercial promoting the original Broadway production of “Chicago” from 1975. Stars Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera don’t appear (which I have to think was intentional) but you get a revealing look at the dancers. I use the word “revealing” not just in the wardrobe (or lack thereof) sense but in the glimpse we get at the overt “seediness” of the show. Guy I knew years ago objected to the 1996 revival because he believed what he called the “Victoria’s Secret costumes” removed the show visually from the period, which is thematically critical. I obviously and most regrettably never saw the original but I do agree that the 1920s and vaudeville are major characters. I also think it was bold of Verdon to really play to the “over-the-hill” aspect of Roxie. I’ve seen stills of her in outfits that are clearly not meant to be flattering.

You also see Bob Fosse’s choreography. Ann Reinking did a great homage to it in the revival but Fosse is much more controlled (imagine the slow movement on one thumb compared to an entire arm).

I shall remain giddy over this find for at least a few days. I’ve mentioned many times before that “Chicago” is my favorite musical — searingly funny book, amazing dance numbers, and not a bad song from start (“All That Jazz”) to finish (“Nowadays”). “All I Need Is the Girl” is one of my favorite songs but out of context, the average person wouldn’t know it’s from “Gypsy.” “Razzle Dazzle” and “Mister Cellophane” are instantly recognizable as from “Chicago” and they’re just from the male leads!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Pop Life

 

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“But I need your love to keep away the cold”….

I had occasion the other day to think about the classic number “Steam Heat” from The Pajama Game. Choreographed by Bob Fosse, it epitomizes his style — the hat roll-ups, the smooth bow-legged movement. It’s also compelling evidence for the theory a coworker shared with me years ago that women in musical theatre “get all the good stuff.”

In the show, Gladys performs the routine with “the boys from the cutting room floor” at a union meeting. Carol Haney originated the role of Gladys on stage and also played her in the 1957 film version. Haney later moved on to choreography. She died at 39, shortly after completing work on Funny Girl.

Haney’s understudy was Shirley MacLaine, who played Gladys for months when Haney was injured. This would prove to be her big break.

“Steam Heat” was part of the 1999 musical revue Fosse, Ann Reinking’s tribute to the late choreographer. This is a clip of Meg Gillentine performing the number for Dance in America: From Broadway: “Fosse” on PBS, which is available on DVD,

And here’s the number in Hungarian, which I think is fitting after having spent time in Budapest’s thermal baths.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Pop Life

 

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