Go See Pippin! Join Them!

Categories: Theater

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It's been said that a musical has to have at least three 'wow" moments to really grab an audience. Well, the Diane Paulus-directed revival of the 1972 musical Pippin has at least seven. The tale of a medieval lad searching for significance--dotted with both earnestness and shtick, like so many of composer Stephen Schwartz's shows--is done here with a circus theme that makes the work come to vivid, acrobatic life. The look of the piece is ambient, the physical stunts are eye-popping, and Chet Walker has deftly choreographed in the style of the original's Bob Fosse.

The sardonic and arresting Patina Miller is the Leading Player who guides a troupe of actors through their paces--and lovely Schwartz songs--for a morality tale slash vaudeville show about how simpler values are the best, even when production values are high.

Matthew James Thomas is a sweet, winning Pippin--gamely traveling through war, power, and love to find what works, including taking his shirt off at one point--while wry Terrence Mann, saucy Charlotte d'Amboise, and loopy, lovable Rachel Bay Jones add winning support as key figures in his quest. And when Andrea Martin (above) launches into granny's big number, "No Time At All"--about the need to stop and embrace the moment--she goes from deadpan humor and homilies to literally twirling on an aerial hoop with a hunk, resulting in at least five "wow" moments in that number alone.

Pippin is a wispy show full of idealistic views that always seemed aimed at the college crowd, but its charm resonates in this well-cast, beautifully turned-out production. And the closing sequence adds a hypnotic darkness that cements the status of Paulus (Hair, Porgy and Bess) as the queen of Broadway's daredevil revivals.

Wow.


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4 comments
chriscolumbianyc
chriscolumbianyc

I was very disappointed in this revival of "Pippin."  The unnecessary circus shtick masks a show already masked by Fosse  to conceal the skeleton flimsy libretto.   Resultantly, the whole evening is a slight of hand to distract you from another slight of hand designed to distract you from realizing the vacuity of the show.    At least the '72 production had sensual  style, making it if anything else pipin' hot.  This revival, however, channels "Barnum" in a desperate attempt to make the production accessible and palatable, which it is not.  The talent is great, the songs are perennial pop favorites and show is slick.  The form, however, does not compensate for the nothingness which it surrounds.  I'd rather not have joined them and wasted an hour or two.  

chriscolumbianyc
chriscolumbianyc

I was very disappointed in this revival of "Pippin."  The unnecessary circus shtick masks a show already masked by Fosse  to conceal the skeleton flimsy libretto.   Resultantly, the whole evening is a slight of hand to distract you from another slight of hand designed to distract you from realizing the vacuity of the show.    At least the '72 production had sensual  style, making it if anything else pipin' hot.  This revival, however, channels "Barnum" in a desperate attempt to make the production accessible and palatable, which it is not.  The talent is great, the songs are perennial pop favorites and show is slick.  The form, however, does not compensate for the nothingness which it surrounds.  I'd rather not have joined them and wasted an hour or two.  

SouthernDave
SouthernDave

"No Time at All" is one of those rare songs that has audiences laughing with joy and then grinning through tears. How wonderful that Andrea Martin has gotten universal raves in the role.

RC61Austin
RC61Austin

I can't wait to see the show for myself on June 8th.  Wow!

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