by DFernando Zaremba
Fosse and Verdon worked together quite a bit, but the high point of
their creative relationship came in 1966, when Fosse crafted Sweet Charity
for Verdon, 3 years after the birth of their only daughter,
Nicole Providence Fosse. With its up-tempo, triumph over adversity theme, it
was perfect material for both husband and wife. Indeed, Fosse scored
quite a few kudos when he revived the show in 1985 for Debbie Allen in
Los Angeles, gaining even more impressive reviews when he took the show
to Broadway the following year.
In 1969, Sweet Charity was translated to the big screen (starring
Shirley MacLaine - a former Fosse chorus girl) in what was Fosse's first
crack at directing a motion picture. It garnered good notices (but bad
box office attendance) and was followed by the film many consider
Fosse's finest, Cabaret (1972),
starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York. Nominated for a slew of
Oscars, including Best Picture, Cabaret, won eight, including Best
Actress (Minnelli), Best Supporting Actor (Grey) and Best Director (Fosse).
The years 1972-73 were perhaps Fosse's best; it was certainly his most
successful. Not only did he win an Oscar., but he also captured two Tonys for
directing and choreographing Pippin on
Broadway and three Emmys for producing, directing and choreographing Liza With a Z. That feat had never been
accomplished by anyone previously, and remains unmatched to this day.
Riding the crest of his success, Fosse directed his first completely dramatic
film, Lenny (1974), a biography of tragic
comedian Lenny Bruce (played by Dustin Hoffman). He next co-choreographed a
film-version of the children's classic The Little Prince, in which he also
acted, playing the Serpent).
Chicago (1975) was his next big stage
smash. An adaption of a Maurine Watkins melodrama, the show starred Gwen Verdon
and Chita Rivera. It ran on Broadway for two years before embarking on an
Fosse's last major Broadway hit was
Dancin' in 1978. Significant not
only for its distinct Fosse style, the musical was also an important
polemic on the future of the traditional, or book, musical. With no
plot to speak of, just dancing, its most powerful statement was one of
The following year...