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Big DealBob Fosse and Dance in the American Musical$
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Kevin Winkler

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199336791

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199336791.001.0001

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(p.35) 2 Apprenticeship
Big Deal

Kevin Winkler

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes Bob Fosse’s first four Broadway shows, which he worked on with George Abbott or Jerome Robbins, both of whom proved important mentors to the young choreographer. This high-level apprenticeship served as a foundation for every Fosse show that followed. With The Pajama Game, his distinctive style was already fully developed as exemplified in “Steam Heat.” Damn Yankees introduced Fosse to Gwen Verdon, a former Jack Cole dancer whose performance of Fosse’s choreography for “Whatever Lola Wants” proved indelible and led to a professional and personal association that would last the rest of their lives. On New Girl in Town, a musicalization of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie, Fosse fought with Abbott and producer Harold Prince over his “Red Light Ballet,” which they deemed censorable. The clash led Fosse to sever his ties with both men and determine that he would follow Robbins’s example and direct his next show.

Keywords:   George Abbott, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, Harold Prince, Stanley Donen, The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, My Sister Eileen, Bells Are Ringing, New Girl in Town

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