- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2000

The musical revue "Fosse" is like a box of exquisite chocolates in reverse — all you get are the luscious, delectable insides and creamy centers.

The 1999 Tony Award-winning musical tribute to Bob Fosse's choreography is a nearly exhausting hit parade of great moments from "Sweet Charity," "The Pajama Game," "Chicago," "Cabaret" and "Dancin'" as well as scintillating snippets from lesser-known works, movies and television.

The show has no plot, little commentary and no story lines or characters to keep straight. It concentrates instead on one heart-stopping moment after another delivered by a cast in peak physical condition. Cast members not only dance as if Mr. Fosse were hounding their leotard-clad tails, but also winningly put over a song (and in the case of Reva Rice, deliver a song in a sultry, scatty style that would do Ella Fitzgerald proud).

With Fosse dancers, every muscle is beautifully articulated. The stylized poses reveal the human body almost as classical sculpture. One need not be an expert in choreography to spot a Fosse routine a mile away: the rakishly tilted bowler hat, the thrust-out hip, the wiggly-waggly hand movements and the sexy, shruggy, angular postures.

Another signature move involves myriad pelvis articulations, as seen in the number "Bye Bye Blackbird." Other segments remind one of modern dance, as in "Percussion 4" from "Dancin'," which features Terace Jones, a Washington native who studied at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, in a highly emotive solo of leaps, twirls and body slides.

Another piece, "From the Edge," also from "Dancin'," is a percussive pas de trois by Gelan Lambert Jr., Tyler Hanes and Mark Swanhart that pays homage to the wonders of balance.

These dances may have required more athletic prowess, but the crowd pleasers tend to be the ones that add humorous touches. "Big Spender" from "Sweet Charity" features a lineup of bored, fed-up bar girls who chomp down on cigarettes, droop their eyelids and shoulders and generally look as if all they want to do is take off their high heels and go home as they parrot such come-hither lines as "I don't pop my cork for every guy I see," punctuated by wittily weary bumps and grinds.

The agile vaudeville moves and sound effects of "Steam Heat" from "Pajama Game" also make it a winner, with Linda Bowen, Mr. Hanes and Mr. Swanhart slinking and sidling across the stage while doing hilarious spot-on imitations of cranky radiators. "Rich Man's Frug" is a 1960s hipster version of the Ascot sequence from "My Fair Lady," with posh partyers, led by the wonderfully soignee Jennifer Savelli, letting their oh-so-proper posture lapse into stiff abandon from time to time.

What becomes clear from the show is that Mr. Fosse loved dancers and women and liked to make people look good. Miss Rice's considerable charms are shown off to ultimate advantage in "I Gotcha" and "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries," in which a seductive wiggle of the shoulders or a turn of the knee or hip makes her look sexy without being obvious or vulgar.

Even something meant to be erotic, such as "Mein Herr" from "Cabaret," has some humor about it as Miss Rice and her fellow dancers twist their bodies into aggressively seductive postures that are anything but subtle.

The show has a few missteps. We could do without the minstrel-show overtones of "Mr. Bojangles," and the tribute to dancing man Fred Astaire fails to capture his incandescent elegance and sense of timing. These are just quibbles, though, in a show that reveals the insouciant genius of Mr. Fosse's choreography and the astonishing ability of the dancers who master them.

WHAT: "Fosse"WHERE: National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NWWHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Dec. 20; 7 p.m. Sundays. Through Dec. 31.TICKETS: $35 to $85PHONE: 800/447-7400

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