Lots of fancy dancing, live music make ‘Fosse’ fun

That’s what you get with Fosse, the national tour of the Tony-Award winning musical that opened in Birmingham Tuesday night.

It’s a retrospective of the work of master choreographer Bob Fosse, including his work for theater (Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, Chicago, Pippin, Dancin’), film (Cabaret, All That Jazz) and TV (Liza with a Z).

It’s classic stuff, and it’s performed by a cast with seemingly boundless energy and talent. Some have performed on Broadway before, and all of them would be at home in New York’s best theaters.

Fosse, who died in 1987 at age 60, is one of a handful of choreographers whose work is instantly recognizable. His trademark bowler derbies, gloved hands, toes turned in and sensual body thrusts energize the most mundane of material.

Take “Bye Bye Blackbird,” for instance. Originally staged for Liza with a Z, it’s recreated in Fosse, and it’s the sexiest, jazziest take on that song you’re likely to see.

The wonderful Reva Rice lends her voice to that and several other songs in Fosse (most notably with a hall-filling rendition of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”), but it’s the dancing that is front and center.

From percussion-driven numbers from Dancin’ to “Hey Big Spender” from Sweet Charity to the classic “Steam Heat” from The Pajama Game, Fosse’s fabulous cast exhibits some mighty fancy footwork.

The 2½-hour evening flies by until the finale. After a touching “Mr. Bojangles” (poignantly sung by Josef Patrick Pescetto), the cast returns to perform scenes set to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”