Actor Christopher Tocco, above, plays Jack Cole in a backstage scene with the young Gwen Verdon in FX’s blockbuster eight-episode docu-drama, “Fosse/Verdon.”
“Fosse/Verdon”‘s backstage scene between Verdon and her mentor Jack Cole is preceded by a Jack Cole jazz number vividly choreographed by “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who is a co-producer of this series. Out with a bang, shot from a cannon, come four men and one women. It’s so very brief! But it conveys immediately that something terribly new is detonating on the nightclub floor before Verdon’s impressionable eyes.
Blankenbuehler’s choreography strikes me as inspired by “Beale Street Blues” performed by the Cole dancers in a television appearance on the Sid Caesar Show (led by Chita Rivera, who is partnered by Cole) in 1960.
Chita was recently interviewed by Vincent Dowd of the BBC about Cole just last week (I am also interviewed for that program.)
“Beale Street” in its original permutation appeared in The I Don’t Care Girl (Fox 1953) danced by, in appearance order, Gwen Verdon (out first in pink ensemble and flaming red hair, to a blaring trumpet), Julie Newmar (seated in chair) Matt Mattox and Marc Wilder, entering together. Then out comes Mitzi Gaynor and more. A rich, brilliant dance number. Just the way Cole has those men strutting, climbing that staircase while playing with their hats is so fresh. I wrote previously about the men’s dance on the platform.
Do you want to see Gwen Verdon dance? Watch below.
“Me and My Baby,” epi 3 of “Fosse/Verdon” | FX |Tues April 23, 10 pm