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24 September 2014

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    Bonnie's back!
    Bonnie Langford
    Bonnie Langford

    Bonnie Langford is guest starring in the award-winning musical Fosse on its return to the UK. Andy Smith got the low down on the show, staying in shape and whether she would ever be in Dr Who again!

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    About Bob Fosse

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    7-12 June 2004
    Mon - Sat Eves: 7.30pm
    Wed & Sat: 2.30pm

    Ticket prices: £11.50-£29.50

    Box Office: 01908 606090

    In 1973 Bob Fosse became the only person in history to have won an Oscar (Best Director - Cabaret), an Emmy (Best Choreographer, Best Director and Best Producer - Liza with a 'Z') and a Tony (Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography - Pippin) in the same year, a feat unmatched to this day.

    In 1999 the Broadway production of Fosse the Musical won three Tony Awards including Best Musical and in 2001 in the West End Fosse won the Olivier Award for Best Choreography.

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    West End and Broadway star Bonnie Langford is returning to the stage as the special guest of the all-American company of the multi award-winning musical Fosse.

    A celebration of the genius of Bob Fosse, it returns to the UK in May following sell out seasons in Paris and the US and it will be in Milton Keynes for just one week in June.

    Bonnie Langford
    Bonnie prepares for Fosse in Milton Keynes

    Bonnie Langford has packed a wealth of show business into a career which has embraced film, television, radio and theatre, but apart from her famous portrayal of Violet Elizabeth in Just William (I'll scweam and scweam and scweam until I'm th'ick!) people often put her into a box labelled 'song and dance'.

    But this is unfair because apart from having parts in shows like Doctor Who, Family Album (with Joan Collins) and the BBC's successful series of Noel Coward plays 'Tonight at 8.30, it is important to remember that lead roles in musicals also require acting skills!

    "It's very interesting how people like to put you in a little box" says Bonnie, "and when you say, 'well I do all three and quite like doing them all together' it's quite difficult to explain."

    "It doesn't mean to say that when one discipline stops another begins."

    "And with something like Fosse you do get to do all of them and although it's dance-based it really has so much more than that to offer" she adds.

    Fosse celebrates the work of Bob Fosse, one of the most influential directors, choreographers and dancers of all time, whose signature style is stamped on many of Broadway and Hollywood's most famous musicals including Chicago, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, The Pajama Game, Pippin, and Dancin'.

    Bonnie says that she has always been a big fan of Bob Fosse but it was appearing in his work that confirmed it. She was in Sweet Charity in 1998 in the West End and says that it was very different from any show that she'd done before.

    Bonnie Langford
    Bonnie in Fosse

    And she's done lots! Cats, Me & My Girl, Peter Pan, Pirates of Penzance and Gypsy are just a few, so what does she think is different about a Fosse choreographed musical?

    "I've been in a lot of musicals and enjoyed them tremendously but with Fosse it's very intelligent and very challenging both mentally and physically" she explains.

    "After a performance you feel that you're very fulfilled and when I did Charity I felt that I actually grew as a performer and perhaps as a person as well because it does tap into parts of you that you haven't really thought about before.

    "There are very few parts for women that are powerful vulnerable, funny, sad, and sexy at once as well as there being brilliant choreography" she continues.

    "So when Fosse, the musical, came along I thought that it was a fantastic opportunity to get to do his other shows.".

    "I jumped at the chance when they asked me to do it. I'm so excited to have been offered a role" she adds.

    "There is nothing like Bob Fosse's sexy steamy style and I am really going to enjoy performing some of his best work."

    The show contains some of the best-known showstoppers of all time: 'Big Spender' from Sweet Charity (1966); the jazzy, sexy 'Steam Heat' from The Pyjama Game (1954) 'Mein Herr' from the film Cabaret (1972); "Mr Bojangles" from Dancin' (1978) and the roof-raising Benny Goodman swing classic "Sing, Sing, Sing" (Dancin' 1978).

    A scene from Fosse

    Bonnie says that the music is fantastic and will make everybody want to get up and dance.

    "It's absolutely pulsating" she says. "It gets right to your heart and you just want to get up and dance to it.

    "And our job is to make the audience feel that they could do it to!" she adds.

    Unbelievable as it seems, Bonnie Langford will be 40 this year, but still looks as slim and fit as ever. She says that having a child has helped to keep her that way.

    "I have always stayed very fit but funnily enough, since I've had my daughter (nearly four years ago) I think I'm probably fitter because I spend so much time running around after her" she says.

    "She's extremely active and so I don't sit down for a second really."

    "I also think that physically you balance out as well as you get older and you become stronger in different parts" she continues.

    "I'm really looking forward to being able to do this choreography as a more mature person than when I was 19 and was slightly gawky! You do become a lot more centred."

    A scene from Fosse

    She admits though that her preparation is just blind ignorance, even though she is going into a show with a group of people in peak condition because they have been doing the show for ages.

    "They might be tired" she says, "but I'm not!"

    "I'm just going to go for it 100 per cent like I would anything. I've trained as much as I can. I'm looking forward to the style of it and that in itself makes you fit very quickly."

    However, fitness is not only key for the dancing, there are a lot of skimpy costumes to get into. But Bonnie is quick to point out that it's not a gratuitous show.

    "It's very sexy. You see the line of the dance but also a lot of flesh and quite a lot of people will enjoy that" she laughs.

    "It's not crude or rude though - it's entirely tasteful but slightly provocative."

    "But it's a very high quality production and I think it's great to see something so excellent."

    Dr Who
    At the moment Fosse is touring the UK until mid-July and afterwards, with Dr Who about to be ressurected, would Bonnie consider going back into the cult show where she did two stints as assistant Melanie Bush?

    "I don't know" she says. "It depends what the scripts are like. Dr Who is an extraordinary association that I have because I didn't realise until I was in the show quite how worldwide it is and how popular and how dear it is to so many people's hearts.

    "They have great affection for the show and so I'm delighted to be part of it."

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