Magic to Do: Pippin Opens at Goodspeed, Tour Follows

News   Magic to Do: Pippin Opens at Goodspeed, Tour Follows A new production of Pippin, the Stephen Schwartz-Roger O. Hirson coming-of-age musical about Charlemagne's confused son, opens at Goodspeed Opera House Aug. 9 prior to a national tour.
Joshua Parks in Pippin.
Joshua Parks in Pippin. Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut is producing the experience, which began in East Haddam July 14 and continues to Sept. 24.

Gabriel Barre directs the staging, which features Joshua Park as Pippin and Mickey Dolenz as the King. Andre Ward (Broadway's Saturday Night Fever) has been cast as the Leading Player, a role originated by Ben Vereen. Park appeared in Broadway's Tom Sawyer musical, and Dolenz is widely known for being an original member of the pop group The Monkees. Pop is still very much the flavor of the 1972 Schwartz score.

"Mischievous, magical, humorous and captivating — Tony Award-winning Pippin is the lively coming of age story of Charlemagne's oldest son," according to Goodspeed. "A surprise waits around every corner as Pippin wanders through the worlds of politics, love and war before finding his true calling."

The score includes "Magic to Do," "Corner of the Sky," "Simply Joys," "Kind of Woman," "Morning Glow," "No Time at All" and more.

* The musical was produced on Broadway in 1972 and ran 1,944 performances. The project was an expansion of a college show Schwartz had written. The famous original staging of Pippin was by director-choreographer Bob Fosse, who also directed the provocative TV commercial for the musical. That wordless TV spot (a new thing for stage shows at the time) featured Ben Vereen and leggy dancers and helped sell the show.

Since its Broadway life, the script and score have seen changes. The most recent high profile production was in concert in the "Reprise" series in Los Angeles.

Schwartz told Playbill.com, "Things have changed about Pippin over the years as different productions have been done. I came upon an ending that they were doing in a Fringe production in London several years back that seemed to me vastly superior to our original ending. That's now been instituted. When it was done at Paper Mill [Playhouse]…the way we got in and out of the intermission seemed superior to what we'd had before. And then there have been some line changes and some cuts that we've seen along the way. There haven't been a whole bunch of specific changes made for this particular [Goodspeed] production, but it assimilates a lot of things that we've learned over the years, in terms of the book, music and lyrics."

In terms of the actual text, the Goodspeed production will be "pretty close to the text that was used in the Reprise [concert] version they did in L.A. last year, which went so well," Schwartz explained. "It's about to be the licensed version. Basically what's been happening over the years is that the licensed version goes out with an increasingly long errata sheet. We've been waiting to re-do the [scripts] that go out until it was a little bit more definitive. We hope this is gonna be the pretty definitive version, the text itself."

Barre and Goodspeed will put their own production stamp on the show, of course.

Is Pippin Schwartz's most-licensed work?
He said, "There are three: Godspell, Pippin and Children of Eden. It varies from year to year. All three of them are pretty heavily licensed."

*

After its run at the Goodspeed Opera House, Pippin will immediately begin a national tour.

The Goodspeed/tour cast also includes Jason Blaine as Theo, James Royce Edwards as Lewis, Shannon Lewis (Broadway's Contact, Fosse and Candide) as Fastrada and Barbara Marineau (Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Shenandoah) as Berthe.

Teal Wicks will play Pippin's love interest, Catherine.

The rest of the company includes Sara Antkowiak-Maier, Stephen Brotebeck, Molly Tynes Corkern, Jason Dougherty, Dell Howlett (Broadway's Aida), Ryan Kelly, Karl Maier, Lauren Marshall, Candy Olsen, Vincent Rodriguez III (first national tour of 42nd Street), and Dana Winkle (Goodspeed Musicals' Mack & Mabel, national tours of 42nd Street and Chicago).

Swings for this production are Ashley Arcement and Brandon Tyler Fields.

Park's credits include the title role of Broadway's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Off-Broadway's Streets of New York, plus Sarah, Plain and Tall at The O'Neill Theatre and Master Harold… at the Westport Country Playhouse. This will be Park's first appearance at the Goodspeed Opera House.

Mark Dendy choreographs. The design team includes Beowulf Boritt (scenic), Liz Prince (costumes), Kevin Adams (lighting).

Music direction for Pippin is by Michael O'Flaherty, Goodspeed's resident music director.

Mark Hartman (Broadway's Miss Saigon, 1776 ) will serve as music director/conductor. Michael Croiter and David Chiapeta will orchestrate.

Pippin is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

For more information, visit www.goodspeed.org.

Andr
Andr Photo by Diane Sobolewski