Fosse/Verdon costume designer Melissa Toth happily made exact replicas for Cabaret, Damn Yankees, Can-can and more, but Pippin was a bridge too far. "When we first started prepping, I said, 'Don’t make us recreate Pippin,'" Toth says.
"It will cost like $200,000 and it’ll take a separate staff of like 10 people to do it," she remembers explaining. "The costumes for the original Broadway production of Pippin were so idiosyncratic, and so weird, that it was just gonna be a lot on our heads."
But then, the final number in Fosse/Verdon's fourth episode isn't really happening in Pippin at all-it's taking place inside Bob Fosse's head, as he teeters closer and closer towards a breakdown. This freed up the creative team to imagine something new: a medley of songs from the musical, comprising "Glory," "Simple Joys," "Finale," and more, punctuated with the performers' pleas to Fosse.
"There is something," the lead says. "The only completely act in our repertoire: the finale!" Gwen Verdon and Paddy Chayefsky join in, too, urging Fosse towards his untimely end. "It's time the world sees just how extraordinary you are," Verdon says, swirling her finger.
For Toth, this meant imagining what the characters would dress like inside Fosse's dreamland. "The women were dressed in a pastiche of the Oscar, the gold stuff," Toth recalls. "And it was a matter of what was Gwen going to wear. And I think what ended up happening was we decided she would be dressed in her Sweet Charity costume." So Toth paired the turtleneck Verdon was wearing on the set of Sweet Charity, back in the first episode, with a Pippin-inspired boater.
And Verdon's gold pendant necklace? It's a copy of one of Verdon's real-life accessories, which had been stored away in the Fosse and Verdon archive. "It’s a piece of costume jewelry that was given to Gwen, I think in the late '40s or early '50s, by Jack Cole, who was a very famous choreographer that she worked for as a sort of a dance captain," Toth says.
"The pendant is a griffin... and, it’s sort of a bulky necklace and she wore it forever," Toth explains. "She wore it on red carpet nights, she wore it at home, she wore it just constantly. It was just an iconic piece of jewelry that she had forever. So we molded it and copied it from the original necklace."
The result is a mix of Fosse's memories and delusions, all dancing together in step, luring him towards "glory." "The ones who die young, those are the ones who live forever," Verdon says, as Fosse cracks open the window.
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