PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Pippin—Make That 'Big-Top Pippin'

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26 Apr 2013


Creating a creditable mashup of the above, Paulus said, was her most daunting chore: "The layers and the details on the show were so complicated in integrating the Fosse and the acrobatics, but that was the joy of it as well—the merging of those two worlds, the circus and the Fosse. I loved working with this talented cast who were so determined to be brilliant and extraordinary. That was the theme for the show and the theme for this cast. It was a challenge but a joy, total joy."

The vociferous response Pippin has been receiving is on a par with those that greeted her Hair and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess—a cheery echo not lost on Paulus. "It has made me very happy," she said. "You know, when you make something out of so much love, you're just thrilled when people respond and give that love back."

The director and the choreographer made these barely audible remarks at the after-party held at Slate, a small, black-box disco on West 21st.

Having shucked her habit from Sister Act, Patina Miller is no flying nun here, but she is airborne a lot, traveling mostly by trapeze as Leading Player, who narrates the story and, in the guise of best bud, manipulates Pippin through his key, life-learning experiences. Whenever an unwelcomed love interest lifts her pretty head—as in the specific case of Rachel Bay Jones' Catherine, a widow with child, who lures Pippin away from the colorful commotion of court life into the mundane mire of everyday bucolic blandness—Miller spews and hisses like The Stage Manager From Hell.

"It's a demanding role and a big role," Miller allowed, "but you know what? I've been working hard and getting my stamina up, and I'm really, really proud of this because it's my baby. I wanted to take this role and find out who this character really was."

And who did she finally come up with? "I found a person with a passion, a big heart—somebody who wants to bring all that out of you. The Leading Player to Pippin is his cheerleader. She wants him to experience life. She wants him to experience all these things. Even if it's scary, she wants him to do these things."


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