Friday, February 20, 2004

Energetic dancers keep 'Fosse' hopping

By Joseph McDonough
Enquirer contributor

DAYTON - The trademark Bob Fosse choreography, style and "all that jazz" are in full display in Dayton's Broadway Series.

Those stage signatures include bowler hats provocatively tipped forward, fingers splayed coolly down to the stage, and legs and arms in fluid, athletic and always sensual movement.

Fosse, the tribute to the late choreographer and director, is a revue of many of the best known (and a few lesser known) musical numbers from the Broadway shows he helped make famous from the mid-1950s until his death in 1987.

Some of the scenes are jazzed-up filler, but there are plenty of bold and brassy production numbers to keep Fosse entertaining.

Much credit goes to the young cast of 24 dancers who are essentially hoofing it (or making a quick costume change) for the entire show.

Featured singer Michael James Scott uses his smooth voice and strong dance moves to lead the cast in a bouncy and playful "Bye Bye Blackbird."

The female ensemble gives Sweet Charity's "Big Spender" a wry spin as a chorus of disinterested and disheartened hookers.

The first act closes with The Pajama Game's "Steam Heat," showcasing Phillip Atmore, Brent McBeth and Sarah Townsend Turner in an enjoyable clown dance.

The most sizzling numbers are saved for after intermission.

Ashley Fitzgerald sings "I Gotcha," a sexy seduction song; the ensemble gives a groovy '60s fling to "Rich Man's Frug"; and the women step up onto their dance hall chairs and bring the nostalgic decadence of Cabaret to "Mein Herr."

Most of the cast returns for a long dance sequence of "Take Off With Us," which leads into an erotic ballet in the unique Fosse style.

Despite Fosse's many big, splashy numbers, the best scene of the evening is a quiet and sweet rendition of "Mr. Bojangles," sung by Grady Bowman and danced by Ryan Kasprzak and Omar Merced as a tramp and his shadow.

The show closes with an extended and rousing full-cast version of Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" that brings the featured musicians out of the orchestra pit and up on the stage.

The dancing ensemble includes two performers originally from Greater Cincinnati: Katie Hyle is from Monfort Heights, and Karl Warden is from Symmes Township.

Fosse, through Feb. 29, Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton, (888) 228-3630.

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