Bob Fosse was the ultimate "Dancin' Man" who left a brilliant legacy of stage musicals and films featuring edgy, slithering, sexy choreography. Some of his signature moves are now part of the common lexicon; does anyone not know what "jazz hands" are?
Always controversial, wildly entertaining and envelope-pusher par excellence, Fosse is a Broadway legend with a devoted following of hard core theatre aficionados, comparable to the brilliant Stephen Sondheim.
Even if you have never seen a Fosse show (and you probably have if you ever saw "Pajama Game," "Damn Yankees," "Sweet Charity," or "Chicago"), you will have your mind blown by the amazing talented cast of young dancers, singers, and actors gracing the stage at San Diego's renowned Old Globe Theatre.
A witty Prologue at the top of the show (deftly delivered by Manuel Herrera) explains that this show has no plot, no boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl stories. It's just pure dancing as an expression of all the conditions of life through movement. And the cast delivers it in all its thrilling highs and lows.
The opening number set to Neil Diamond's "Crunchy Granola Suite" explodes with sound, color and movement that brought vociferous cheers from the audience.
Seamless set moves and split-second costume changes help the production flow smoothly, allowing Cilento's narrative to uplift and cool down the viewer.
There are so many fantastic performers in this show and hats off to the production for including dancers of every shape, size and appearance who strut their stuff with joy.
From the panther-like dances of 6'5" tall Jovan Dansberry to the lissome ballet moves of Ida Saki, the taut sexuality of Kolton Krouse to the luscious curves of Karli Dinardo, the petite spitfire that is Yani Marin and the soul-shaking singing of Khori Michelle Petinaud, every member of this cast is superb.
The true heros of this production must include the dressers who have nano-seconds to assist dancers change costumes in about 60 seconds for over a dozen scenes. Costumer Designers Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme have assembled pieces that shimmer, shake, cling, float and enhance each performer.
There are many people behind the scenes bringing a level of excellence to this production who need to be mentioned. The amazing orchestra, under the direction of conductor and keyboardist Darryl Archibald, hits every note to perfection. The driving drumming of Gary Seligson pushes the glorious "Sing Sing Sing" to new heights and the jazz licks of musicians Greg Armstrong, Robert Elinson, Steve Dillard, Andrew Elstob, Devin Burnworth, Erica Erenyi, Nikko Nobleza, Vince Cooper, Mark Vanderpoel and Tim McMahon are the solid foundation on which this show rests.
Robert Brill's lean and mean scaffold set rolls in a series of smooth moves, switching levels and creating new spaces within David Grill's superb lighting design. Peter Hylenski's sound design and Finn Ross's video design complete the vision of the creator.
This week the Globe announced that, due to an unprecedented surge in sales, the show has been extended to June 5. This is great news if you haven't already ordered tickets; so take your fine selves down to the Globe's Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage and experience what will no doubt be the (jazz)hands down hit of Broadway's 2022-23 season.
-- Lisa Lyons