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Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound PIPPIN

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Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound PIPPIN

As BroadwayWorld reported last night, producers Barry & Fran Weissler and Howard & Janet Kagan will present the American Repertory Theater's 40th Anniversary production of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz's Pippin, directed by Diane Paulus, on Broadway in the Spring of 2013. Pippin will begin preview performances on Broadway on Saturday, March 23, 2013 and officially open on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at the Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street).

The beloved coming-of-age musical Pippin, with a book by Roger O. Hirson, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is directed by Diane Paulus with circus creation by Gypsy Snider of the Montreal-based circus company Les 7 doigts de la main (also known as 7 Fingers) and choreography by Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse.

PIPPIN is currently playing through January 20, 2013 at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in Cambridge, MA, where Diane Paulus serves as Artistic Director.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Jeffrey Gantz, Boston Globe: But just as "Pippin" teeters between "Extraordinary" (Pippin's temper tantrum about wanting to be special) and the "Ordinary Life" he shares with Catherine and Theo, the ART production melds extraordinary circus acrobatics and magical illusions with "ordinary" virtues like accomplished acting, singing, and dancing plus a refreshing lack of cynicisM. Miller is an infectiously inviting host, smart, sassy, and swivel-hipped, with a voice that, in "Glory," soars over the chorus. Thomas brings a gawky energy to the title role, and an innocent earnestness that allows him to sing "Corner of the Sky" without the usual Disney overtones. He and Rachel Bay Jones go well together; her long-tressed, squeaky-voiced Catherine is all tender practicality, and in their "Love Song" duet they suggest that love itself is extraordinary. They make good parents for Andrew Cekala's sweet and spunky Theo. Jones also displays fine comic timing in her exchanges with Miller, as Catherine tries to keep Pippin down on The Farm when the plot calls for him to go out in a blaze of glory in the Grand Finale.

Jan Nargi, BWW: Under Paulus' sure and steady guidance - and in collaboration with not only her production team but also original creators Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson - PIPPIN has come of age. No longer a flower child born of the Vietnam Era, this quirky little musical fable has matured and become a story for all time.

Iris Fanger, The Arts Fuse: In the Paulus production, the Fosse trademarks are wrapped into every inch of the musical numbers. Leading Player (Patina Miller in the role that made Ben Vereen a star), stands in half-faced pose, a hip pushed out, one hand on her straw hat, the other clutching a cane, to lead the corps de burlesque, who strut with caved-in chests and hitched-up shoulders to the syncopated beat. Musical comedy diva Charlotte d'Amboise, as the Cruella de Vil stepmother, sizzles through her solo, stretching her perfect legs out to infinity for the high kicks while running her hands up and down her body and then using them to fluff out her hair in mock innocence.

Beverly Creasey, Boston Arts: See PIPPIN for the acrobatics. See it for Patina Miller in all her "Glory" as the sizzling emcee. See it for Terrence Mann's cheeky, Gilbert & Sullivan turn as Charlemagne, describing the vicissitudes of war. See it for Charlotte d'Amboise's naughty step-mother but most of all, see it for Andrea Martin's no holds barred granny!

Bill Marx, The Arts Fuse: As a director, Paulus is more energetic than she is subtle: when the proceedings slow down her response is usually to have somebody tossed high up into the air (there's even an audience sing-a-long). That approach becomes problematic in the second act when Pippin's discovery of the joys of ordinary life (triggered by a dying duck) grinds the show to a gooey halt. But she is generally an efficient mover and shaker, propelling the production along with gusto so you don't have a chance to think too hard about disappearing characters, vanishing plot threads, and nonsense sentiments. In the program, Paulus suggests that the production experiments "with a new physical vocabulary of musical theater storytelling," but there is nothing particularly innovative here. Her conventional "corner of the sky" is the sunny, cloudless blue that perpetually sits over Broadway and Las Vegas audiences, who pay for their fair weather.

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