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  • Writer's picturepgracemiles


“I never thought of him, when we were working, as my husband. Judy Garland came backstage one time, and she said, oh, your husband's done a fabulous job. And I said, who?” -- Gwen Verdon

In 1979 my sister took me to downtown Seattle to see All That Jazz. I was 14 years old and had recently decided to become an actress. I remember walking down 5th Avenue just as it was getting dark and the store window display lights were shining so bright. I wanted to dance back to the car. The showbiz I wanted to be a part of was Fosse's showbiz.

After watching Fosse’s film, I did a lot of dancing in my bedroom all through high school. Between Gene Kelly and Bob Fosse moves, I was hooked on the idea of dancing in musicals. My friend Wendy even took me to see Fosse’s Dancin’ in Seattle as a birthday present. I still have the worn out program. When it came to dancing classes, I moved well but did not pick up the steps quickly enough to move up to the next level. I soon gave up my short career as a Broadway hoofer.

However, those rhythms stayed inside me and still help today to keep my acting and directing sharp. The self-discipline also remained.

Despite my age I saw myself in the Verdon character of All That Jazz. I was drawn to her wisdom. The producers of the new television series Fosse/Verdon gave us all a reason to exhale when the decided to make its Gwen's story as well. With #MeToo quickly engrained in the psyche of our culture, it couldn't succeed any other way.

I am the target audience for the new television series about Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.

I delight in the opportunity to reimagine those childhood fantasies. My boyfriend doesn’t mind when I sing along with the show tunes. And I know them all.

The leads -- Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are perfection. Williams’ capacity to drop into world-weariness in a blink and a second later flash a smile (or the reverse) has always blown me away. I’m glad I’m not a part of a dysfunctional showbiz team, but I love watching the fiction of someone else doing it with such skill.

Here are some great video examples of Gwen Verdon performing on stage, Fosse dancing, and the two of them working together.

My world today: Our white cherry blossoms have exploded. I live in a forest of spring snow.

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