Photo credit: FX.
Fosse/Verdon is one of the most highly anticipated dramas on TV this spring television season. The FX series focuses on the personal and professional lives of Broadway and film director/choreographer Bob Fosse and Broadway superstar, Gwen Verdon.
Because Fosse's dance style is so specific, it took a team of people from choreographers Andy Blakenbuehler and Susan Misner to The Verdon Fosse Legacy, run by Verdon and Fosse's daughter, Nicole Fosse, to make sure that the movement was accurate. The Verdon Fosse Legacy's mission "is to promote, preserve, and protect the artistic and intellectual property of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon."
Broadway dancer and teacher Mary Ann Lamb was brought in by Andy Blakenbhuehler, who did the first few episodes of Fosse/Verdon and left to choreograph the movie,Cats, during production. Her job was to coach actor Sam Rockwell, who plays Bob Fosse in the series.
"I was brought in to get Sam Rockwell familiar with the steps. He's a natural dancer. It was a joy," shared Lamb. "Then I stayed on the project to assist Susan Misner, who took over for Andy Blakenbuehler. I worked with Sam and Michelle Williams, both are brilliantly talented dancers and singers — they're triple threats."
Once the coaching was done, The Verdon Fosse Legacy came onto the project to teach those famous Fosse numbers to the core group of dancers working on the film.
"We also got to work The Verdon Fosse Legacy under Nicole Fosse. So I got to work with Dana Moore, Lloyd Culbreath, Mimi Quillin and Valarie Pettiford," she said. "They actually worked with Bob exclusively. They would come in and set the numbers and then we would take the number and put it onto the set. We coached the dancers and rehearsed them over and over."
The numbers were often rehearsed from start to finish in eight hours because they were working at television's fast pace. They didn't have the luxury of time for rehearsals like they would for a Broadway show.
"We had eight hours to do some of these very big numbers like 'Big Spender' and 'Mein Herr.' It was amazing," Lamb revealed. "A lot of the choreography will be done from the viewpoint of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. You will see clips and pieces [of the dances]."
The part about the series that Lamb is anticipating the most is the fact that people will finally learn more about Gwen Verdon, who is a Broadway and film legend in her own right. It's something that's important to Lamb because she was fortunate enough to work with Verdon during her career.
"What is so exciting is that everyone is going to learn about Gwen Verdon. We know Bob Fosse because of All That Jazz, but now they will learn that she was huge in collaborating," she said. "They were an amazing collaborating team."
Mary Ann Lamb leaping across the stage. Photo credit: Courtesy of Mary Ann Lamb.
Lamb also cherishes the lessons she learned from working with a legend during her Broadway career.
"I don't think there's a better jazz dancer that ever walked the earth and no one compares to her even now. You just cannot believe her technique. She was so powerful as a dancer and I think one reason why is because she was a spectacular actress," Lamb reminisced. "She was funny. The one thing that I feel she brought to Bob Fosse was letting the audience come to her and not working for the audience. They both worked from the inside out. Dance is internal, not external."
Fosse/Verdon premieres on April 9 on FX.
Don't miss Dance Network's latest 'To The Pointe' interview with 'So You Think You Can Dance' executive producer, Jeff Thacker: