Big Deal (musical)

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Big Deal
Big Deal Playbill cover.jpg
Playbill cover
Music various
Lyrics various
Book Bob Fosse
Basis "Big Deal on Madonna Street" film
Productions 1986 Broadway

Big Deal is a musical with a book by Bob Fosse using songs from various composers such as Ray Henderson, Eubie Blake, and Jerome Kern. It was based on the film "Big Deal on Madonna Street" by Mario Monicelli. The musical received five Tony Award nominations, with Fosse winning for Choreography.

Production and background[edit]

Fosse said that by using existing songs: "I can pick the perfect songs that will say the right things, and they're known. We'll have the greatest score in the world because they're all hit songs."[1] Fosse said of the main character, Charlie: "That's my part! A swaggering bumbler who thinks he's a ladies' man, and he's not."[2]

Big Deal opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 10, 1986 and closed on June 8, 1986 after 69 performances and six previews. Directed and choreographed by Fosse, with Christopher Chadman as assistant choreographer, the musical featured Cleavant Derricks as Charley, Loretta Devine as Lilly, Wayne Cilento, Cady Huffman, Valarie Pettiford, and Stephanie Pope.



In Chicago in the 1930s a group of small-time unemployed African-American men plan to rob a pawn shop. Their leader, Charlie, is a former boxer. But the hapless would-be thieves run into many obstacles along the way.

Critical reception[edit]

Frank Rich in his review for The New York Times wrote: "Big Deal, the new Fosse musical at the Broadway, contains exactly one of those show stoppers, and attention must be paid. If only for 10 minutes or so just before the end of Act I, Mr. Fosse makes an audience remember what is (and has been) missing from virtually every other musical in town. The number is set to the old song Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar, and it unfolds in a Chicago ballroom of the 1930s called (need I tell you?) Paradise...The disappointment of Big Deal is that even Mr. Fosse, one of the form's last magicians, can conjure up that joy so rarely. There are some other pleasurable passages in this musical - period songs (or snatches of them) agreeably sung or danced by talented performers - but this is a mostly lackluster effort that often seems to be lumbering clumsily about."[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1986 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Cleavant Derricks Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Bob Fosse Nominated
Best Choreography Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Cleavant Derricks Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical Bob Fosse Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Won


  1. ^ Gottfried, Martin. All His Jazz: The Life & Death of Bob Fosse (2003), Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-81284-3, p. 433
  2. ^ 'Big Deal', accessed August 14, 2009
  3. ^ Rich, Frank."Theater: 'Big Deal,' From Bob Fosse",The New York Times, April 11, 1986

External links[edit]