A large portion of my musical theatre knowledge, at least all of the stuff I learned when I was little, comes from my sister. She would make me mix tapes, sing with me and when she was in high school I would get to go see the shows she was in. Not to mention the fact that she took me to see many a show with her. In fact one of the best Christmas presents I've ever gotten was when I was in seventh grade and she took me to see Titanic, The Musical.
For some reason, both my sister and I have an eminence amount of love for the musical Pippin. Needless to say we were both positively giddy to learn it was coming back to Broadway. This past Saturday, along with some awesome friends, my sister and I finally got to see Pippin together.
The show did not disappoint. It was an amazing spectical of illusion and acrobatics. There are so many tricks and displays of death defying feats that I sometimes found it hard to know where to look. The ensemble is almost alway doing tricks of some sort, be it flips or rope work or some sort of crazy contortions and balancing acts. It truly is breath taking to watch. Though I will admit to having slight moments of fear as I realized NO ONE IS HOOKED UP TO ANYTHING! It truly has that full on circus feel they were going for.
It would be wrong of me not to mention the fav that the show features a female Leading Player, played by the lovely Patina Miller (Broadway's Sister Act), as people seem to think that to be a big deal as traditionally the role is played by a man. However as many the high school/college/community theatre company has discovered the role can easily be played fantastically by a female. In fact the first live performance I ever saw of Pippin featured a female Leading Player and she was fantastic.
It's interesting to note, in a show that revolves around the life story of a man, the real standouts in the cast are women. Now that is not to say that Matthew James Thomas (Broadway's Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark) is not a fabulous Pippin, or that Terrance Mann (who has originated roles in Cats, Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast and countless other Broadway shows), who I actually saw in the role in the 2004 World Aids Day production, isn't the perfect embodiment of King Charlemagne. Both gave wonderful performances, but it was the women of the production who really shined. Patina Miller was the both highly entertaining and wickedly disturbing as The Leading Player, switching from sweet and encouraging to sadistic and frightening on a dime.
Charlotte d'Amboise (Broadway's Chicago, A Chorus Line) was brilliant as Fastrada, though in the interest of full disclosure I have loved her since I saw her as Roxie in Chicago back when I was in high school. Her dancing in "Spread A Little Sunshine" was flawless, although being as she is a dancer, that's to be expected. Couple her dancing with the ridiculous, almost magical quick changes, one of which happened ON STAGE, and it was a memorable number.
And while we are talking about memorable performances, we need to take a mo-mo to discuss, the ridiculously brilliant performance of Andrea Martin as Bertha. To me the role of Bertha, and her solo has always been hit or miss. It can either be a hilariously fun highlight of the show, or that scene before the Orgy. This production is definitely the former, Andrea Martin's Bertha is wonderfully cheeky, and fun. She even performs a portion of her song in a corset while doing trapeze work. Yes, you read that correctly, and damn she looked fantastic doing it.
On a whole, Pippin, is an amazingly entertaining revival, full of merriment and twisted fun. If you haven't seen it yet, you are missing out.