Diane Paulus’ Broadway-bound production of Pippin concludes its run at the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) in Cambridge, MA on January 20, but the production won’t be idle for long! Pippin will start Broadway previews on March 23 at the Music Box Theatre.
Synopsis: The play begins with the introduction of an ensemble of actors and a Leading Player, who reveals to the audience that they are about to relay the story of a young man named Pippin who is searching for meaning and purpose in life. A recent college graduate, Prince Pippin returns home to his father and stepmother, King Charlamagne and Fastrada, and begins his pursuit of the “fulfilled” life. During this personal quest, Pippin seeks the advice of many, including his father, stepmother, his grandmother Berthe, and the Leading Player, all of whom compel Pippin to undertake many roles, most notably, a soldier, a monk, a murderer, a king, and a lover, none of which fulfill him. Alone and desperate, he encounters an ordinary woman named Catherine, a widow, and her son Theo, and senses what it means to be fulfilled. Pressured by the Leading Player to perform the most incredible act- the Finale, Pippin leaves Catherine and this ordinary life behind. Ultimately, Pippin must choose between performing an extraordinary, but dangerous feat and living an ordinary, but fulfilling life.
Eight Reasons to See Pippin on Broadway
1.) It’s a circus!! Director Diane Paulus employed the talents of circus choreographer, Gypsy Snider of Les 7 Doigts de la Main, in creating some of the most exhilarating stunts to ever be performed in a musical! Further, the choreography, created by Chet Walker in the style of original director/choreographer Bob Fosse, is incorporated strategically into the story in a very theatrical fashion and in a way that propels the story forward. The utilization of a circus theme and daring choreography enhances the element of danger that is a major theme in the story.
2.) It’s the first Broadway revival of a “gem”. In fact, I wonder why this underrated, overlooked show has not been revived sooner. The original Broadway production ran from 1972-1977.
3.) Stephen Schwartz of Godspell and Wicked fame composed the score, so it’s no surprise that the music is great. Personally, I loved the opening number (“Magic to Do”) because it sets the mood for the show and immediately pulls the audience into the story. The score is light, upbeat, and harmonious, which directly contradicts the story’s underlying darkness.
4.) Patina Miller as the Leading Player gave a mysterious and calculating performance. In Pippin, she shows her versatility as an actress, and while we all loved her Tony-nominated performance as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act, she really proves that she won’t be typecast as the funny, sassy leading lady. And that voice...
(Sidenote: The Broadway cast of Pippin has not been announced)
5.) The set, a giant tent, and the lighting are captivating and magical.
6.) The audience gets the chance to sing with the incomparable Andrea Martin while watching her hang upside down from a trapeze. Now that doesn’t happen every day. The scene between Berthe and Pippin is one of the great comedic moments of the show and is not to be missed.
7.) On the surface, Pippin appears to be a light-hearted story about a young man in search of himself, yet there is far more depth and meaning to this story than initially expected. For the purposes of this blog, it is not my intent to analyze Pippin; however, I can promise that this show will make you think. How many musicals can do that?
8.) Last, but not least- a sweet little dog makes an appearance!
I hope the above eight reasons will encourage you to check out Pippin on Broadway, which opens in previews on March 23, 2013 at the Music Box Theatre!