Fosse/ Verdon Recap: “Life Is a Cabaret”

Fosse/Verdon is the latest show on FX depicting the romantic and professional relationship between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. The choreographer (played by Sam Rockwell) and actress struggling to find relevance as her once bright star begins to fade (played by Michelle Williams) aims to tell the story of how they influenced not just each other’s art and career, but whole lives entirely. This show is gorgeous, as it features original performances as well as some footage of the duo’s most famous works. The miniseries is produced by the actors, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Steven Levenson, George Stelzner, and Joel Fields, so I think it’s safe to have high expectations. Here’s what went down in this week’s opening episode.

The show opened up in Hollywood with a dance rehearsal with Fosse and Verdon that quickly moved into a whole 60’s style dance number on a soundstage. Originally, I thought Gwen Verdon would be starring in the dance number as the transition rolled in, instead we see her helping Bob Fosse with directing the girls on stage, which I absolutely loved. As the camera started rolling, we saw it was the infamous Fosse choreography to Hey Big Spender for the movie Sweet Charity. Bob was big on Broadway, but this was his first real attempt at a movie.

Back in New York, things heat up between Fosse and Verdon. We got to see a more intimate look at their personal relationship and the life they shared with their daughter, Nicole. We watch Nicole as she navigates a big time party at their home, pulling olives out of martinis and putting cigarettes in her father’s mouth for him. She even did a great impression of him in front of all the guests. A side conversation between the writer of Sweet Charity’s wife and Verdon showed there may be a bit of resentment that she wasn’t cast in the film and here I was all excited she was assisting in directing. Turns out the movie was a flop, anyway.

The stress of the bad reviews lead Bob to seek out a big job. Cabaret, which we all know and love, was where he set his sights. Meeting with a big wig in charge of the film, his shots of getting a spot as a director or choreographer seemed slim. He wanted Bob and Gwen, if he were to have them at all. He plead his case and just maybe he stood a chance. Meanwhile, Gwen wanted to take them back to Broadway, all while running through Nicole’s own dance routine. Life had other plans for Bob, which included Liza Minnelli. He got the job.

The show then took us to Munich, showing Bob boosing up in a bar on location Cabaret. We see a weird interaction between him and a translator working with the cast. More importantly though, we got to see Liza (well, the actress playing her. Can we please have the real thing?) carrying a dog and I loved every second of it, and the scene was probably two seconds long. Also, throughout the episode at this point we keep seeing Bob have flashbacks to his dance lessons as a kid. Maybe this is a nod to how hard he’s worked, or his struggle to be the best, I’m not sure yet.

Back in New York, Gwen was prepping for the Tony’s, trying on dresses and what not. She reveals to a friend that she and Nicole weren’t going to be visiting Bob in Munich. Her friend hints at the possibility of him cheating on her while abroad, but Gwen shook it off, saying she’s in search of a play. The hint that he could be unfaithful brings us back to his encounter with the translator in the bar, while the show then transitions into his attempt to cast actresses for the movie, with the translator, whom he leaves with. They then make out, she says she has a boyfriend. When asked about his marriage, he says being on a different content means there are special exceptions. Can I get a yikes?

Things got fun again as we watched Bob direct scenes from Cabaret. Then sad again as we watch Gwen’s calls to Bob go unanswered. I mean, I don’t think she was trying to actually talk to him about romantic wife stuff, moreso that their daughter brought a bottle of Seconal to school. Did I mention that I love their daughter Nicole yet? Because she is the best character in this show thus far. When they finally get in contacted with one another, Bob offers Gwen a trip out to Munich to help him with some numbers. They didn’t actually talk about the whole Seconal thing and I wish they did.

Gwen made her way to Munich and helped Liza pick out costumes, for which I am jealous. I think Gwen is the genius between the two of them. Watching her put makeup on an extra, painting the story that she wore such heavy paint because she didn’t want to be noticed. Maybe she was a high society girl? Brilliant. There was also a man in some sort of gorilla costume and thankfully Gwen talked everyone out of that one. Also, quote of the episode came from Gwen in this scene, “And Richard Nixon is our president, Lord help us all.”

Well, Gwen was sent on a 75 hour gorilla expidition for the movie and when she returned, the translator was in Bob’s room. Or so we thought? Suddenly, the show cuts to the couple in D.C., before what looks like a performance of Gwen’s? Next week’s episode will certainly be a juicy one, seeing as it ended on that note! Do you think we’ll get some answers next week? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on this week’s episode and where you think the miniseries will take us regarding the lives of these two icons!

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About Haley Van Horn 74 Articles
One small brushfire away from completing the Serial Killer Triad, Haley is a hell-raising college student and sports journalist. Calling the suburbs of the gayest city in America home, she's sure to bring it to you every ball.

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