Regional Reviews: San Diego
Bob Fosse's Dancin'
Mr. Fosse was for years arguably the king of Broadway choreographers. His long resume includes such Golden Age hits as The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Bells Are Ringing, Pippin, and, of course, Sweet Charity, which starred his spouse, Gwen Verdon. A revue based on dances from shows such as these would be a treat, but that's not what Fosse wrote. Instead, he choreographed dances in episodic fashion to a variety of popular composers from several eras. The Globe's revival honors the general shape of the Fosse original, but Fosse colleague Wayne Cilento has not always used every original song. He has also shifted from three acts to two, sometimes shuffling song order in the process. From time to time, references to musicals make an appearance ("Big Spender" from Sweet Charity, a bit from Pippin, and a significant segment from Big Deal), but for the most part the production is episodic, allowing one dancer or another to move to the fore.
Thus, dancing is the star, not the dancers (twenty of them: Ioana Alfonso. Yeman Brown, Peter John Chursin, Dylis Croman, Tony d'Alelio, Jovan Dansberry, Karli Dinardo, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Jacob Guzman, Manuel Herrera, Gabriel Hyman, Kolton Krouse, Mattie Love, Krystal Mackie, Yani Marin, Nando Morland, Khori Michelle Petinaud, Ida Saki, Michaeljon Slinger and Ron Todorowski).
I was especially fond of the Act II opening, labeled "Benny's Number." The music is associated with Benny Goodman's big band (which featured Mr. Goodman on clarinet), a nice aural change of pace, and drummer Gary Seligson is placed prominently toward the top of the set, playing continuously during this exciting number. It struck me that this number, while certainly not in Broadway style, showcases Mr. Fosse's choreography particularly well.
The Old Globe has made a substantial investment in this production, including putting a fourteen-piece band, led by music director Darryl Archibald, under the stage. I'm not especially fond of scaffolding towers used as set pieces, but Robert Brill's scenic design makes them work, both visually and functionally. David Grill's lighting design can pinpoint individual performers, a necessity on the scaffolding, and Peter Hylenski's sound design is crystal clear and well balanced. I was less than pleased with Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme's costume designs, but knowing that they come from the world of ballet helps me make sense of them. Ditto Finn Ross' video design–the moving geometric figures started to make me nauseous.
The run of Bob Fosse's Dancin' has extended to June 5, 2022. It may prove to be a hit on Broadway as well.
Bob Fosse's Dancin' runs through June 5, 2022, at The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego CA. The run time is two hours and twenty minutes with one intermission. Free parking is available throughout the park, and valet parking is available for a fee. For tickets and information, please visit www.theoldglobe.org or call (619)-234-5623.