‘Fosse/Verdon’ music duo feels the vibe in their DNA
“Fosse/Verdon” threw a spotlight on one of the most significant duos in musical theater history: choreographer Bob Fosse and his wife and creative partner, Gwen Verdon. So, naturally, the Emmy-nominated creatives behind the FX limited series are two of today’s most significant musical men.
Alex Lacamoire is nominated for outstanding music direction. This was his first foray into television, after winning Tonys for orchestrating three Broadway juggernauts: “In the Heights,” “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” A core member of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brain trust, Lacamoire is one of the premier stage music directors working today.
Miranda was the “catalyst” for “Fosse/Verdon,” according to Lacamoire. The “Hamilton” creator read the Sam Wasson biography “Fosse” and handed it to “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail. “He was, as usual, just our eye and our barometer,” Lacamoire says of Miranda, who also made a cameo in the final episode. “He would make sure we were heading in the right direction.”
Lacamoire, who has loved Fosse since he was a kid and considers “Pippin” one of his favorite musicals, also composed some original score for the first time — chiefly a theme for Fosse and Verdon that feels like it belongs in the world of “Cabaret” and “Chicago.”
“I wanted to write something that felt like it could be danced to,” he said. “There are moments where these two melodies kind of intertwine and dance around each other — there’s even a moment where they kind of go together, parallel, but then split apart the way Fosse and Gwen did.”
“I also wanted it to have a little bit of melancholy,” he added. “Yes, there were a lot of things that went right, careerwise, but there was a lot of stuff that felt like it went wrong, emotionally. So I wanted there to be a kind of hunched-over, slouched-shoulder quality — much like Fosse’s dance.”
Lacamoire is used to wearing all of the musical hats on a show, but he quickly realized that, for his first TV rodeo, he needed help.
Emmy-nominated “Fosse/Verdon” is a showbiz tale of ‘two broken people’ that Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams understood implicitly.
Enter Steven Gizicki, the Grammy-winning music supervisor of “La La Land.” The former head of music at Lucasfilm, Gizicki oversaw every aspect of the Oscar-winning, candy-colored 2016 film that brought musicals back to the multiplex.
As the Emmy-nominated music supervisor of “Fosse/Verdon,” Gizicki selected and licensed all of the songs heard on radios and turntables throughout the show — even consulting Nicole Fosse on what records her parents would have played at home. But also, for a show that prominently features dance rehearsals and on-set performances of famous, Fosse-choreographed numbers like “I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man,” Gizicki was a “soup to nuts” conduit between the music team and all of the other departments.
“We’re known as the people that pick the songs,” he said. “But for a show like ‘Fosse,’ the bulk of the job is about execution. It’s about helping to stage these numbers, and essentially being a line producer or a stage manager for these numbers. It goes beyond just choosing the songs and licensing the songs. It’s being on set, it’s managing all the prerecords in the recording sessions, and the mixing, and the soundtrack.”
“Fosse” was a very meta project to oversee: rehearsing and choreographing scenes about people rehearsing and choreographing scenes.
Lacamoire savored that aspect of it.
“I love that we all worked together to make it really feel like the way it could have felt in the day,” he said. “Those of us who are working on it know what it’s like to be in those rooms, and know the repetitive nature of it, the precision of it, the discipline of it.”
This was the first time Lacamoire and Gizicki worked together — but not the last. They were on their lunch break on the set of the film adaptation of Miranda’s “In the Heights,” due in 2020, when they gave this interview. “Fosse,” aptly, paved the way for their newfound partnership.
“Bob Fosse is sort of in our DNA, and his works are part of the reason that we’re in this career line to begin with,” Gizicki said. “He’s part of why we’re driven to make musicals, because of the groundwork that he laid.”
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