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All That JazzThe Life and Times of the Musical Chicago$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190651794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190651794.001.0001

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Fosse & Verdon and Kander & Ebb

Fosse & Verdon and Kander & Ebb

“You Have To Act Your Dancing”

(p.117) 7 Fosse & Verdon and Kander & Ebb
All That Jazz

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

This chapter chronicles the rise of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse as well as John Kander and Fred Ebb in the theatre industry. Their careers reveal how much the musical was transforming itself by the late 1940s, and how comfortably it moved between musical comedy and the musical play, uncovering ways of aligning them in innovative mutations. Moreover, the musical had come to amalgamate the responsibilities of director and choreographer and make the rise of the naturalistic actor not only possible but necessary. In a way, one could say that a Chicago musical was unthinkable until the liberation of Fosse and Verdon and the evolution of Kander and Ebb, out of musical comedy into the commentative show. Like Show Boat, Oklahoma!, and West Side Story, Chicago is an exhibition piece in the development of the elite yet populist and idealistic yet subversive national art form, the musical.

Keywords:   choreography, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse, John Kander, Fred Ebb, musical, naturalistic actor, commentative show, Broadway

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