OH, IT'S TIME TO START LIVIN'!!! This past week has been a beautiful, emotional, and joyous day for Live Theater as it slowly has started to make a huge comeback. Another one of the many shows that has just returned (and became the first major musical to return) is a brand new Australian company of Stephen Schwartz's beloved musical Pippin. This production is a new company of the recent 2013 Tony winning revival that was directed by Diane Paulus. It began previews on November 24th, 2020, it officially opened on December 3rd, 2020, and will run for al limited engagement till January 31st, 2021 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney.
This new Australian company is led by….
Ainsley Melham (Disney's Aladdin) as the title character,
Gabrielle McClinton as "The Leading Player" (a role she previously understudied in the Broadway production),
Simon Burke as "Charlemagne",
Lucy Maunder as "Catherine",
Leslie Bell as "Fastrada",
Euan Doidge as "Lewis",
Kerri-Anne Kennerley as "Berthe".
Check out McClinton and the company in action performing the musical's legendary opening number MAGIC TO DO.
Since we're still coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are extreme safety precautions happening for everyone BOTH involved with the production & their fellow Theatergoers. There will be ongoing temperature and testings on people prior before heading into the Theater. There will be a strictly limited capacity of people allowed with social distancing. Audience members must wear their masks the entire run of the show. In addition, extra hand sanitizers have been stalled all around the Theater.
In case anyone may not remember, PIPPIN is a coming of age story of a boy trying to find meaning and significance. Along the way, there’s a performance troupe guiding us along through this tale. Based on the fictional story of Pippin The Hunchback (son of Charlemagne), the show features a score by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. Notable songs include MAGIC TO DO along with CORNER OF THE SKY, NO TIME AT ALL, GLORY, EXTRODINARY, and more.
PIPPIN was first conceived as a class assignment while Stephen Schwartz was studying Drama at Carnegie Mellon University in the 60’s. He was part of the school’s oldest Theatre troupe that creates all new original works called Scotch'n'Soda Theatre. Originally Schwartz not only wrote the score, he also directed that original early production. He also co-wrote some of the score with Ron Strauss. Many of the songs and lines from that early production did not even make it into the final version that we all know today. Schwartz graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Drama in 1968. 4 years later following the success of his debut rock musical Godspell, Schwartz went back to working on the score of PIPPIN without Ron Strauss updating the story and songs. In addition, Schwartz hired a full new creative team under the leadership of acclaimed director and choreographer Bob Fosse.
The original production of PIPPIN arrived on Broadway in the Fall of 1972 playing the Imperial Theatre for a total of 1,944 performances. The cast consisted of….
Ben Vereen (later Samuel E. Wright, Northern J. Calloway, and Larry Riley) as “The Leading Player”,
Christopher Chadman as “Lewis”,
Eric Berry as “Charlemagne”,
Jill Clayburgh (later Tony winner Betty Buckley) as “Catherine”,
Leland Palmer (later Tony winner Priscilla Lopez) as “Fastrada”,
Irene Ryan (later Dorothy Stickney after Ryan’s passing) as “Berthe”.
Earliest reviews were mixed to negative. However in promotion, PIPPIN also made history in the 70's as the first major Broadway show to film a TV commercial with 60 seconds of snippets from the show.
The original production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. It won 4 including BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Ben Vereen), BEST SCENIC DESIGN (for Tom Walton), along with BEST DIRECTION and BEST CHOREOGRAPHY (both for Bob Fosse).
4 years after the show closed on Broadway, a one night only production in Toronto was filmed in 1981 for Canadian Television. Directed by Bob Fosse’s dance captain Kathryn Doby and the show’s book writer Roger O. Hirson, the filmed cast included…
Ben Vereen reprising his Tony winning performance as “The Leading Player”,
William Katt as the title role,
Christopher Chadman reprising his Broadway role as “Lewis”,
Benjamin Rayson as “Charlemagne”,
Leslie Denniston as “Catherine”,
Tony winner Chita Rivera as “Fastrada”,
Martha Raye as “Berthe”.
The filmed performance was also abbreviated. Several songs and dialogue used in the original Broadway production was cut for the filmed performance including the song I GUESS I’LL MISS THE MAN. The filmed production is now available on DVD.
In addition to its original success on Broadway, PIPPIN went on to become a worldwide hit including productions in London’s West End, Australia, and around the world. The show was later revived on Broadway only once.
The recent revival of PIPPIN was originally developed for the American Repertory Theater in 2012 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the show’s Broadway Debut. Under the direction of Tony winner Diane Paulus and choreography by Chet Walker, this production was well known for being done in the style of being in a circus. It included illusions by Paul Kieve and circus acts created by Gypsy Snider and members of the Montreal-based troupe Les 7 doigts de la main. In addition, the role of “The Leading Player” was changed from a male to a female. The Cambridge production did so well, it was brought to Broadway in 2013 playing the Music Box Theatre for a total of 746 performances. The 2013 revival cast consisted of….
Erik Altemus as "Lewis"
Tony winner Rachel Bay Jones as “Catherine”,
Tony nominee Charlotte d'Amboise as “Fastrada”,
Tony winner Andrea Martin (later Tovah Feldshuh, Annie Potts, Lucie Arnaz,, and Priscilla Lopez) as “Berthe”.
The revival was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2013 winning 4 including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL and BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (for Patina Miller).
With the GLORY the show got at the Tonys for both its original and revival, PIPPIN made Broadway History as both Patina Miller (the revival’s “Leading Player”) and Ben Vereen (the original “Leading Player”) became the first actors of two different genders ever to win a Tony Award for playing the very same role.
Today, PIPPIN continues to become a popular show performed in Schools, Community, and Regional Theaters everywhere.
WELCOME HOME LIVE THEATER!!!
Break legs to the entire company of this new Australian company of PIPPIN!!!!!
Isn't this musical so EXTRODINARY?!!!