How Fosse pushed shining star Verdon to the side in ‘Chicago’

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Fosse/Verdon | Tuesday, 10 p.m., FX

The remaining episodes of “Fosse/Verdon” focus on the backstage drama while the show “Chicago” was in rehearsal. While Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams) cherished the property as a vehicle for herself and chose her estranged husband Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) as director, he changed the tone and direction of the show. He also relied on the talents of Broadway legend Chita Rivera (Bianca Marroquin), who played Velma Kelly to Verdon’s Roxie Hart, to help Verdon through some vocal rough patches.

The Post spoke to Marroquin, who knows a thing or two about Fosse musicals — she’s currently starring on Broadway in “Chicago” as Roxie Hart.

When preparing for this role, did you ask to meet Chita Rivera?
I’ve known her for years and I reached out. I said, “Chita, this just happened to me. I need your blessing and I need to pick your brain.” She was flying a lot to London to do concerts and it didn’t work out. She reached out the day of the premiere and said, “I’m very excited to see you. It’s your turn to shine.”

You have your own relationship with the show “Chicago”?
I’ve been playing Roxie Hart for 17 years. I was cast as Roxie in Mexico when I was 25. That’s my journey. I am playing her now on Broadway. I once sat next to Michelle Williams on a plane. And I auditioned to play Chita Rivera so that was like a premonition.

Is it true that, as we see in the series, Fosse changes what is supposed to be Gwen’s big closing number in “Chicago”?
Yes. I’ve been told by Nicole [Fosse] and other people. Bob wasn’t satisfied with the closing number, “Nowadays.” Chita stood up for Gwen but Bob wanted the two to do a duet. Chita said it was Gwen’s show but Bob thought it would be more effective for them to do the duet.

Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse, Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon and Bianca Marroquin as Chita Rivera
Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse, Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon and Bianca Marroquin as Chita RiveraMichael Parmelee Photography

Would you have worked for Bob Fosse?
I would have. My training was in Mexico from the ballet world. I was taught to follow rules, shut up … and work hard. I would have given my soul to work with this man. The work, the sweat… Do it again until it’s right.

Bob Fosse treats Gwen poorly throughout “Fosse/Verdon,” yet she remains steadfast at his side. Why do you think she stood by him?
I really do think first it was a romantic love, but there was also a lot of admiration. They were both creatures of the stage. Even though their love story transformed into something else, their respect for each other never broke.

What was it like working with Michelle Williams on the series?
She is the most disciplined, focused performer. When she was given a note, she would say, “Coming right up, with a side of fries.”


And here’s what else to watch this week:

Barry | Sunday, 10:20 p.m., HBO

Season finale. Barry (Bill Hader) is out for vengeance. Hank (Anthony Carrigan) faces the threat of being sent home. Sally (Sarah Goldberg) makes a split-second decision on the night of the acting class’ big performance. Fuches (Stephen Root) turns to an unexpected source for help.

Black-ish | Tuesday, 9 p.m., ABC

Season finale. After Junior (Marcus Scribner) gets an offer for his dream job working with Migos, Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) are determined to convince him to return to college and get his degree.

Anthony Anderson, Marcus Scribner and Tracee Ellis Ross in "Black-ish."
Anthony Anderson, Marcus Scribner and Tracee Ellis Ross in “Black-ish.”ABC

The Red Line | Sunday, 8 p.m., CBS

Tia’s (Emayatzy Corinealdi) campaign for alderman is in jeopardy. In order to help indict Paul (Noel Fisher), Daniel (Noah Wyle) tries to find the sender of the security tape that shows him shooting Harrison (Corey Reynolds).

The Name of the Rose | Thursday, Sundance

Series premiere. Franciscan monk William of Baskerville (John Turturro) and his novice Adso von Melk (Damian Hardung) arrive at a secluded monastery in the Alps, where they become witnesses to a series of mysterious murders.

What/If | Friday, Netflix

Series premiere. Renée Zellweger plays a female Dr. Faust, offering mortals anything in exchange for their souls, in this case, offering to fund a scientific foundation to a pair of cash-strapped newlyweds (Jane Levy, Blake Jenner) in exchange for the husband’s services.

Game of Thrones | Sunday, 9 p.m., HBO

Series finale. Last week’s fiery devastation at King’s Landing left fans wondering: What now? Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is obviously insane and has lost the respect of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and maybe even Jon (Kit Harington). She’s not fit to sit on the Iron Throne. But who will stop her?

The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Special | Monday, 10 p.m., CBS

Featuring an all-new “Carpool Karaoke” with Celine Dion. It will also feature James Corden’s favorite “Late Late Show” moments.

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