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Fosse/Verdon: Life Is a Cabaret (Series Premiere Fri 2 Aug 2019 on BBC Two)



Life Is a Cabaret: It’s 1966 and Bob Fosse is in Hollywood on the set of Sweet Charity, the film of the successful Broadway musical that had starred his wife Gwen Verdon, who has been replaced on screen by Shirley MacLaine.

A year later and Gwen and Bob are home in New York having a party to celebrate the film’s huge box office success, with guests including their friend Paddy Cheyefsky, Neil Simon – who wrote the book for Sweet Charity – and his wife, Gwen’s very good friend Joan. Joan is adamant that Gwen should have got the film role of Sweet Charity but Gwen is just grateful that Bob was chosen to direct the film by Shirley.

Bob is musing over the reviews of the film as Gwen insists that he should be coming to bed, but Bob is having suicidal thoughts of jumping from the apartment balcony.

Dining with the producer Cy Feuer, Bob puts himself forward as the director of Cy’s new project Cabaret, but Cy is reluctant since he thinks of Bob’s style as brash, and explains that Cabaret is an intimate musical drama. Bob recalls his time in the US Navy in an entertainment unit, dancing for severely wounded servicemen, and insists that he is the director for this project. Cy remains reluctant and Bob says that he will call Manny Wolf at the studio (Allied Artists) to introduce himself. He subsequently pressures Wolf’s receptionist to get him an interview at which he is given the job.

In Munich, Bob prepares for the filming of Cabaret, which involves visiting a brothel to cast real prostitutes as the patrons of the Kit Kat Club and using the language skills of the translator, Hannah, for the production, and subsequently seducing her. Cy is concerned that Bob is not working quickly enough and that he is likely to go over budget as his previous films have done.

Gwen, in New York preparing for a play, is trying to get Bob on the phone to inform him that their daughter Nicole has been found at school with a bottle of her father’s seconal tablets. Bob, realising that he needs Gwen’s help, calls her in New York asking her to come to Munich.

Arriving on the set Gwen immediately gets to work using her skills in costuming and make-up, and volunteers to travel back to New York to find the perfect gorilla costume for the ‘if you could see her now’ number. She is aware of Bob’s liaison with Hannah and wordlessly tells him “when I get back” – he agrees. Gwen successfully acquires a suitable gorilla suit in New York but Hannah is still at Bob’s flat when Gwen triumphantly returns to Munich to present the costume.

Airdate: Friday 2 August 2019 from 9.00pm-9.50pm on BBC TWO.

Season 1, Episode 1



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