Big Deal: Bob Fosse and Dance in the American Musical

Big Deal examines Bob Fosse's four-decade career as one of the brightest lights in Broadway musical theater as a choreographer and director. Kevin Winkler, a former dancer and New York Public Library archivist, conducted interviews with dozens of dancers who worked with Fosse (1927-1987) on stage and screen. He also uses the personal papers of Fosse and wife Gwen Verdon to construct an amazingly exhaustive, intimate and riveting career biography of his subject.

As a teen, Fosse performed in vaudeville, nightclubs and burlesque houses. A film contract with MGM led to appearing in and choreographing musicals on Broadway. Winkler looks at all of Fosse's work on stage (including Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, Chicago), film (Cabaret, All That Jazz) and TV specials. He assesses each musical number from each production and analyzes how Fosse's aesthetic changed over the decades. Big Deal focuses on the director's work life--and he was a true workaholic. In 1973, he won the show business triple crown: an Oscar for Cabaret, a Tony for Pippin and an Emmy for Liza with a Z. "The only salvation for me is work--just to keep rehearsing," Fosse said. "Only then do I experience absolute happiness." There's still plenty of juicy backstage gossip (Fosse's bitter battles with Pippin's composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz; his brief tenure directing Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl after producers fired Jerome Robbins).

Big Deal is an authoritative, passionately written and essential reference guide to all of Bob Fosse's musical numbers. Musical theater fans will tip their hats (Fosse-style) to this affectionate and energetic tribute. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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