The Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver

Date: 10 March, 2004, 8pm
:The Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver

Reviewer: John Jane






Choreography: Bob Fosse

Performing 'Cool Hand Luke'
Bob Fosse was a consummate perfectionist who frequently drove his dancers to the limit. However, I doubt if the master choreographer would have been less than ecstatic over this talented company that rolled into Vancouver’s ‘The Centre’ this week and performed in the tribute production that bears his name.

The two-hour show is a virtual non-stop, dance extravaganza held together with seamless transitions choreographed by Ann Reinking, famed Fosse protege (and former girlfriend), who directed and was co-choreographer of the Broadway production that won a Tony Award in 1999. Those transitions from scene to scene were marvelous in themselves, especially ‘Divine Decadence’ which transformed the benign ‘Me and My Shadow’ into the seductive ‘Mein Herr’ from Cabaret.

The twenty-five numbers were gleaned from Fosse’s Broadway musicals, films and the odd television special produced between 1954 and 1986. Fosse died in 1987 at age 60.

Michael James Scott opened the show with his solo rendition of ‘Life is just a Bowl of Cherries’. He was immediately joined on stage by 17 other dancers, complete with Fosse trademark bowler hats in an exhilarating dance interpretation of ‘Fosse’s World’ and ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ that was full of Fosse kitsch.

With such an incredibly talented troupe, it was difficult to notice individual standout performances. Although, the dazzling Nova Bergeron seemed to be featured in the most exciting routines, including ‘Cool Hand Luke’ from the 1968 Bob Hope television special. In this sequence, a solo flamenco guitar provided a melodic counterpoint to the dancer’s precise rhythm.





Daniella Cavaleri

Daniella Cavaleri’s performance was also worthy of praise. Her deliciously depraved version of the previously mentioned ‘Mein Herr’ was as good as it gets. She also led the entire company in the wildly kinetic finale, ‘Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing’. Dancers were joined on stage by an exceptional jazz combo, and danced their way through several combinations, building the intensity to a very gratifying payoff.

And who could forget Michael James Scott’s sentimental interpretation of ‘Mr. Bojangles’? Scott’s performance, alongside Grady Bowman’s plaintive vocals, was heart-warming and poignant. Jerry Jeff Walker’s timeless tune was a tribute to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who shuffled his way from vaudeville into the movies before he died in 1949.

Bob Fosse

The single disapointment was perhaps the ‘Take Off With Us’ routine that fell behind Sandahl Bergman’s legendary "topless" number in the 1979 film All That Jazz. But after all, this was a family show.

This show is a testament to the obsessive genius of Bob Fosse and the enduring quality of his work.

© 2004, John Jane