BWW Blog: Molly Tynes of PIPPIN - A Glorious Synthesis
Our first week of rehearsal has just come to a close. As many of you probably know, this production of "Pippin" originated at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA this past winter. Our director, Diane Paulus ("Porgy and Bess," "Hair"), collaborated with Gypsy Snider (a founding director of the circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main) to create a new context and theme for the show - the circus. However Diane also wanted to incorporate some of the beloved choreography and iconic style from the original 1972 production created by Director/Choreographer Bob Fosse. Our choreographer, Chet Walker (an expert on the Fosse style and a cast member of the original production of "Pippin"), has made several referential nods to the original "Pippin" in his choreography and has even utilized some of the original choreography in a couple of key moments. (For more information on the new concept and the creation of the show, see my previous BroadwayWorld blog posts about our time at the A.R.T. here: http://americanrepertorytheater.org/inside/articles/look-inside-pippin-molly-tynes.)
For the A.R.T. production the artistic team did an excellent job of seamlessly merging the world of circus with the Fosse style. Many people who saw (and loved) the show there have asked me how much will change for the Broadway transfer. The basic shell of the show will remain in tact, but Diane wants to take that synthesis of styles a step further and incorporate even more dance and circus elements. We used this first week of rehearsal to explore that idea.
We dancers spent some very valuable time with Chet Walker. He has created a new energetic dance sequence for the Finale that builds tension and excitement towards one of the most climactic moments in the show. We also got to work with Chet and his assistant Brad Musgrove (who is also our dance captain and swing) on cleaning and refining many of the dance sequences. Both the Fosse style and Chet's style are very intricate. They require tremendous precision. Having the opportunity to review in front of the mirror after a month away from the show was very helpful!
This week also gave us the opportunity to log some hours of serious circus training with Gypsy Snider. I perform cerceau (aerial hoop) in the show, and I worked with Gypsy on refining my transitions and creating some new material. Our Leading Player, Patina Miller, worked on some new trapeze moves for "Magic To Do." Many cast members (including our dare devil Pippin, Matthew James Thomas) had the chance to start training on the Russian bar - a long, flexible beam supported by a person on either end. Another person (or people) can perform various tricks on top of it.
Gypsy also spent some time brainstorming with two of our acrobatic cast members, Orion Griffiths and Olga Karmansky, on some new circus elements to be added into the show. Orion, originally from England, comes from a long line of circus performers. He never ceases to amaze me with the crazy skills he possesses! He seems to be an expert at just about every circus apparatus there is. Extraordinary, indeed! Olga comes from the world of rhythmic gymnastics. She was two time Pan-American Champion as well as an alternate for the 2004 US Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics team. She is also maybe the bendiest person I have ever met (and I consider myself QUITE bendy!).
One of the more significant changes to the show we addressed this week will occur during the finale. Diane has a new exciting concept that adds an element of danger and will make the scene that much more potent. I don't want to spoil anything, but just know it will be truly spectacular!
Diane worked with us on some other scenes as well testing out tweaks to the script and utilizing improv excercises to help us discover new moments. A definite highlight of the week was an improv we did on the "Ordinary Life" section of the show which turned into a crazy display of clowning peasants wrapped in rags and lugging various farmyard props. Silliness at its best!
Finally our Music Supervisor, Nadia DiGiallonardo, along with our Music Director, Charlie Alterman, and Associate Music Director, Sonny Paladino, taught us some new vocal arrangements for various parts of the show. They also brought in our drummer, Jared Schonig, and explored percussion that will accentuate and compliment the new choreography.
I finished off the week with a journey to Times Square to see our giant billboard. Surrounded by neon lights and scrolling digital displays, the pure silhouette of Pippin about to step inside a colorful circus tent is breath taking and magical. We can't wait to show you what he finds inside!
Pippin's Rigger Michael Cecchini prepares the rehearsal space for training
"Pippin" billboard in Times Square