On the third episode of Fosse/Verdon (‘Me and My Baby’) we learn more about Gwen Verdon. But let me just say again and again and again that Michele Williams is really nailing her interpretation of the character of Verdon. I know that the two ladies do not really look alike, but by God Williams really got the essence of Gwen Verdon and her performance makes the story richer, and in this episode, it was so vital and is responsible for the success. We get to know Verdon’s back story, how she overcame physical liabilities to be the dancer that she became. It also touched upon her being raped by a Hollywood Reporter writer, and how she bore a child that she later gave up to her parents. All of that interspersed with her marital problems with Bob Fosse made the woman fuller before my eyes. I have read these stories before, but to see it on screen surely gave it a very different impact. We understand why she was so overprotective of her daughter – we understand perhaps why she held on to Fosse so much, how their tortured relationship endured despite all their problems. I love the series, and by the end when we see her triumph in ‘Can Can’ we are buoyed by the success – it made her journey deeper, and more rewarding.
Fosse was so tortured by the editing of the film ‘Cabaret’ that he really needed Verdon’s ‘take’ on what to do. It’s interesting to note him criticizing ‘Two Ladies,’ as I had also read that he hated Joel Grey and wanted all the Emcee’s scenes cut – Grey apparently intervened with producers and got his scenes reinstated. i wonder if we will see that in the series.