Pippin, Starring Matthew James Thomas, Patina Miller and Andrea Martin, Opens at A.R.T. Jan. 3
By Adam Hetrick
The Tony Award-winning 1972 pop musical Pippin twists itself into a new, cirque-inspired production — shaped by Tony Award-nominated director Diane Paulus and circus artist Gypsy Snider — which officially opens Jan. 3 at the American Repertory Theater.
The A.R.T. staging of the dark, coming-of-age musical by Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson began previews Dec. 5 and is currently scheduled through Jan. 20 in Cambridge, MA. A.R.T. artistic director Paulus (Hair, Porgy and Bess) directs the work that incorporates circus choreography and acrobatics by Snider of the Montreal-based circus company Les 7 doigts de la main (7 Fingers).
Pippin retains much of Bob Fosse's iconic moves thanks to Chet Walker, who choreographs in Fosse's original style. Pippin has a score by Academy Award winner and Tony nominee Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, "The Prince of Egypt") and a book by Tony nominee Hirson.
A future Broadway life for Pippin has not been announced, but Tony-winning Chicago producers Barry and Fran Weissler, as well as Tony-winning Porgy and Bess producers Howard and Janet Kagan, are thanked in the production notes. The producers helped seed an August workshop of Pippin prior to the A.R.T. debut. Many cast members from that workshop return for the full production.
"Pippin, for me, is about how far we go in our lives to prove we're extraordinary," Paulus told Playbill in a recent interview. "Pippin tracks the story of a young man trying to find the meaning in his life, but it's an emblematic journey, almost like a pageant play, a morality play. So yes, it's a young man's journey, but for me it can speak to anyone, whether you're like me — a mom in my 40s thinking about my life and my choices — or an 18-year-old. It can speak across generations. It takes that theme and expresses it completely through theatre, as a play within a play, using the metaphor of theatre — a troupe of players comes to town to do this show."
Spider-Man cast member Matthew James Thomas takes on the title role in a cast that also features Tony and Olivier Award nominee Patina Miller (Sister Act, Hair) as the Leading Player, Tony Award winner Andrea Martin (My Favorite Year) as Berthe, Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann (Les Miserables, The Scarlet Pimpernel) as King Charles, Tony Award nominee Charlotte d'Amboise (Chicago, Carrie) as Fastrada, Erik Altemus (The Fantasticks) as Lewis, Andrew Cekala (Marie Antoinette) as Theo and Rachel Bay Jones (Women on the Verge..., Hair) as Catherine.
The cast is completed by Gregory Arsenal, Stephanie Pope Caffey, Lolita Costet, Colin Cunliffe, Andrew Fitch, Orion Griffiths, Viktoria Grimmy, Olga Karmansky, Bethany Moore, Philip Rosenberg, Yannick Thomas, Molly Tynes and Anthony Wayne.
Pippin has set design by Tony Award-winning designer Scott Pask, costume design by Dominique Lemieux, lighting design by Tony Award-winning designer Kenneth Posner and sound design by Clive Goodwin.
The A.R.T. staging has new orchestrations by Larry Hochman and music supervision by Nadia Di Giallonardo. Charlie Alterman serves as musical director.
Here's how A.R.T. bills the production: "A bold new staging of the dark and existential musical you thought you knew. Pippin, on a death-defying journey to find his 'corner of the sky,' must choose between a life that's ordinary or a flash of singular glory."
Pippin features such songs as "Corner of the Sky," "Magic To Do," "With You," "Glory," "No Time at All," "Morning Glow" and "Love Song."
For tickets visit AmericanRepertoryTheater. A.R.T. is located at 64 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA.
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