A.R.T Pippin

BroadwayBrat
Stand-by
joined:11/29/04
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/9/12 at 10:13pm
I saw the show Friday night and really enjoyed it. It was my first real exposure to the show, so I can not comment on previous productions or recordings. I will say Patina was amazing. She was funny, sexy, and slick.

Actually, I found the entire cast completely entertaining. Andrea Martin's headset went out and she had to quickly switch to a handheld. It threw off the cast for a moment and had the audience roaring. She said " This is what happens when you come to the A.R.T."

The mix of Fosse and acrobats worked for me. I think this production deserves a transfer to allow more people the chance to see it.
djb
Stand-by
joined:5/17/06
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 04:30pm
Okay, so I saw "Pippin" last night and have about a thousand thoughts on it, but let me begin by saying that this production is not only spectacular but deserving of a transfer and far better than anything that I have seen so far this season.

This production is far and above my favorite of the three "Paulus revivals" in the last few years. It is truly a collaborative effort between her, Chet Walker, and Gypsy Snider, but Paulus's focused hand is very apparent. There was a lot of discussion on here about whether or not the choreo is Fosse's original. There were many moments in this production that are exactly the original (parts of "Glory" being a very specific example, not just including the "Manson Trio" which now features Patina and two of the male players.) Many numbers, though, are now circus numbers which feature some Fosse-esque choreography by Chet Walker but mixed with circus/acrobat work done by Gypsy Snider and illusions by Paul Kieve.

I would have to see this production at least six times to have seen EVERYTHING that was going onstage during the large group numbers. There was so much circus work and stage magic being done constantly that it was impossible to see it all.

The sets and costumes are gorgeous, and the entire company was incredibly together and supportive.

Patina Miller is a star. I must admit I've always been sort of iffy about a female LP, but she is just too amazing to deny. From the first moment she steps onstage in "Magic to Do," she owns this production. She IS the Leading Player. This is an accolade-deserving performance that is powerful, sexy, and scary. All of her numbers were fantastic, but I loved her "Simple Joys" because it featured circus work with the rest of the players and there was something interesting about that concept.

I thought Matthew James Thomas was a fantastic Pippin. He is absolutely right for the character visually, and his acting was fantastic, and vocally he was wonderful. My issues with him are more technical than anything else. He does this peculiar thing when he's belting high at the ends of songs where he does a hunched squat and closes his eyes and grimaces, then stands up on cut-off and makes a face. It's weird. Maybe he picked it up at "Spider-Man," I don't know. Also, I understand that Pippin isn't a "dance role," but Mr. Thomas is not a dancer at all. "On the Right Track" begins as it should, with Pippin unsure of the steps and learning them from the LP. But the fact that he's not a dancer made me feel at the end when he's "full-out dancing" like I was watching my child in a recital. He looked uncomfortable and I felt uncomfortable and I just wanted him to commit to it more and stop staring at his feet.

Terrence Mann and Charlotte d'Amboise were great. Mann is in amazing voice as always, and he was a perfect Charlemagne. d'Amboise is sexy as always, dances and sings her face off. With true professionals like these, I never really doubted that they would be great as Charlemagne and Fastrada so it was more "I'm not surprised they're fantastic" than anything else.

I find the second act of "Pippin" to be at times rushed and weird, but Rachel Bay Jones offers up a beautifully sung and particularly intimate performance of Catherine. She has to hurry the plot along at times, but that's the nature of the book and I found her very human while doing it.

Andrea Martin, is of course, superb. She spits out the jokes to make sure we get them all, which we do and which we love. Also, her "Not Time at All" goes from being fun and funny to absolutely awing. I won't ruin it but Ms. Martin is required to do something that I can assure you that she never thought she'd be doing at this point (or any point) of her career, and I just love her and blah blah blah she's perfect as always.

I was particularly struck by Erik Altemus as Lewis. I foresee him having a very strong future. I know he's been off-Bway and seen regionally, but he has got that "something" and I thought his Lewis was, next to Patina, maybe the richest characterization on the stage. Weirdly, though, the incest between Lewis and Fastrada was basically cut. There were only two weird moments between them that would have passed a non-repeat viewer of "Pippin" by. They had a peck kiss at one point and he was laid on top of her for a split second in a dance sequence, but it sort of confused me that it was not "more." It just felt like Fastrada only wanted her son to be king, but she did not want him in any other ways.

The players (chorus) are amazing. The circus work is awing and the stage magic is both fun and fabulous. I had an amazing time and after a very ho-hum theatre season here in NYC, I felt privileged to be able to watch a show and LOVE it. "Pippin" has always been a really strange show, but I think this production serves up the right combination of everything to make the story and themes cut through.
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 05:07pm
Can anyone help me with seating? I want to grab a ticket to see this and could possibly grab a front row center ticket.

Is this too close? Is the stage high? It seemed to be either up close or pretty far back -- but any thoughts on whether the seats further back are good or bad would also be greatly appreciated.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
timote316
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/04
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 06:36pm
I'd sit further back, dramamama. The stage is low, but quite often there are a ton of things going on. I sat in row G, personally, and thought it was a more than fine seat. It's not a massive theater by any means.
timote316
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/04
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 06:39pm
And djb, I don't agree on Thomas's dancing skills. I thought the dance in "On the Right Track" was great, both Thomas and Miller nailing it. An off performance or maybe some sort of minor injury, perhaps? Could also be a case of different stroke... who knows. I do agree on that squatting thing he does, though. It was very Spidey-like.
HoldThatThought
Stand-by
joined:7/15/12
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 07:14pm
timote and djb, can either of you comment on the musical arrangements? I think the musical director is the same one who did last year's Godspell revival. Just wondering how updated it sounded. I'm seeing this on Sunday and so looking forward to it. Thanks for your reviews.
BroadwayBrat
Stand-by
joined:11/29/04
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 07:31pm
I sat front row center and had no issues.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 07:39pm
Thanks for the reviews! So... where is the intermission? After Morning Glow? And anyone familiar with the various versions, is the script closer to the Fosse one (the talking head, etc), or the some would say softer version they usually license now? a mix?
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 08:01pm
Re the choreography, on ART's website it does say Choreography Chet Walker in the style of Fosse and then at the bottom:
"Original choreography for “Manson Trio” by Bob Fosse
“Spread a Little Sunshine” dance arrangement by Zane Mark"

Which is similar to Reinking's credit for Chicago where there's a special note that the Hot Honey Rag is Fosse's original choreography.
timote316
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/04
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 08:42pm
HoldThatThought, there were a few points in the show where I actually thought 'this sounds like the GODSPELL revival'. I didn't look up the connection beyond Schwartz, but that totally makes sense. And for what it's worth, I enjoyed the arrangements quite a bit in GODSPELL and now PIPPIN.

And Eric, the intermission is indeed after "Morning Glow". As I noted, it was my first exposure to PIPPIN, but if I didn't know otherwise, I'd assume it was written with an intermission there.

Updated On: 12/10/12 at 08:42 PM
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 09:25pm
As of only a couple of years ago, the "soft edit" is no longer licensed. The Fosse version (for the most part), is the default version now, albeit with intermission and some of the non-Fosse elements. But the talking head is back in the show permanently, among other things.

The only thing, off the top of my head, that is NOT in the licensed version, is Fastrada's tragicomic monologue about being raped, but I'm not even sure if that made it to Broadway- it's certainly not in the video release.
Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 09:28pm
That was in the original production. It was in that production that was recorded as well, but it was one of the cuts made for the video.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 09:55pm
Yeah, it is in the "Fosse edit" as people call the full video. I can kinda see why they'd take it out...
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/10/12 at 10:19pm
I've always preferred intermission after "Morning Glow." When I did the show in undergrad some 11 years ago now we did the final note, black out, house up, then a brief reprise of the final chorus of "Morning Glow" to start Act 2 and on with the Pippin as king scene.

I saw another edit of the show (which may be that "soft" edit) that didn't place intermission until after Pippin "takes back" the murder of Charles and then did a brief reprise of "Corner of the Sky" to end the act. I didn't care for that as it just made the two acts feel that much more unbalanced. Act 1 dragged and then Act 2 felt rushed.
Did you know that every day Mexican gays cross our borders and unplug our brain-dead ladies?
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/11/12 at 12:00am
The "soft edit," as far as I remember, was a mimeographed script in the old-fashioned pre-MTI standardization style, which was still sent out until about six or eight years back. It had no intermission, and very little of the Fosse material.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/11/12 at 11:50am
What would be curious is to see a breakdown of what does and does not appear in each version of Pippin: the rape monologue is in the original Broadway production and the "Fosse Cut," but not in the soft script, the license script or the current revival (nor did it appear in Papermill).

However, there are things from the soft edit that also disappear from the Fosse versions and their deriviatives, i.e. every other variation. For instance, the return of the Headless Man's Body seems to appear only in the soft edit, if I remember... and the AIDS Day benefit, when it was re-added to give Rod The Gay Republican a second appearance in the show.
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/11/12 at 04:04pm
"That's how I feel, Patina is beautiful but she doesn't look frightning or scarey at all. And the show does not need any more sexual tension, it had plenty."

First of all, yes, Patina is gorgeous!

But when did Ben Vereen ever - in Pippin or out of it - look frightening or scary?



Read more: http://broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.php?thread=1054137&dt=65#ixzz2EmOjD7pT
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/11/12 at 08:50pm
Darque, I'd love to see a list, too. For ages I heard the, as we're calling it, "soft edit" was the one Schwartz prefered, but either that was never true, or he has come to terms with the Fosse version (which does seem to be true--he speaks pretty highly of it now). You're right, the decapitated head's body doesn't return in the Fosse version (which works better for me...)
HoldThatThought
Stand-by
joined:7/15/12
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 03:42pm
""That's how I feel, Patina is beautiful but she doesn't look frightning or scarey at all. And the show does not need any more sexual tension, it had plenty."

First of all, yes, Patina is gorgeous!

But when did Ben Vereen ever - in Pippin or out of it - look frightening or scary? "

I just watched the video version and Ben Vereen does not look scary or frightening in that at all. I'd be curious as to why the original poster of that comment thought the LP should look that way.

And last time I viewed this video a few years back, I didn't care for it too much. But now I really got it. What a show! I'll be curious to see how Paulus handled the finale, if she changed anything to put across her spin on it, or kept it the same.
g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 04:30pm
For those unable to follow part of the discussion, there are basically three versions of the script, to my knowledge:

1) "Soft edit" (mimeographed script Greg describes)
2) "Fosse cut" (what appeared on Broadway and in the "Fosse edit" of the video that has circulated in trader communities)
3) MTI version (the currently licensed version with the new "Theo ending," the return of some Fosse interjections, and a better overall balance between the soft and Fosse)

My ideal script combines the Fosse cut and the MTI version, because I LIKE NICE THINGS.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 05:37pm
Nice things are good :P

What is the Theo ending? Is that something to do with the Player sorta moving on to try to entice him, instead of Pippin or something?
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 06:04pm
Yes. The soft edit ended with Pippin revealing his "Trapped/Trapped- but happy/Trapped. Happy. Not bad for the end of a musical comedy/Hot-cha-cha-cha!" variation on an ending line, blackout.

The MTI edit (which I believe reflects Fosse's plan) ended with him and Catherine leaving Theo alone onstage, as the Players circle in on him, humming the "Magic to Do" hook. This ending was used at the Papermill, where the "woo" hook is sung to the words "Join us" throughout the show, essentially paying off at the end when it is sung not to the audience but to Theo.
HoldThatThought
Stand-by
joined:7/15/12
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 07:11pm
The MTI edit sounds more interesting and natural as the end of the show. Any idea why they used the soft edit for the 1981 video version? Fosse was still alive at that point, his choice for the ending just makes more sense considering Catherine kept breaking from the script and the whole love thing was an unexpected turn for the LP. Was Pippin more of a collaboration between Schwartz, Fosse, and the book writer?
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 07:19pm
The "soft edit" ending is the original ending. I think--to be more clear the ending of the video (in the sadly edited commercial version AND the complete "Fosse edit") is the version that played on Broadway in previews and during its run. The MTI ending was added later--I don't think Fosse had anything to do with it.

I like the creepiness of the MTI ending as described too, but I'm not sure it would jive with Fosse's vision since by the ending the house lights come up, etc, and essentially with Pippin's final thought the Players are powerless and shown to be a construct of theatre and not real. At least that's how I see it (kinda--I admit as brilliant as I find Fosse's take--and it does seem to be a show about whether to commit suicide on some level--the themes are kinda muddled.)

Schwartz and the book writer (Hirson?) did Pippin (called Pippin, Pippin) as a very different college show when it was picked up by a producer, and handed to Fosse. Fosse greatly changed it (I believe writing much of the new material himself) and famously locked Schwartz out of rehearsals much of the time.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 08:14pm
As far as I can tell, the players are not a construct of the theatre- the theatre is a construct of the players. Pippin is their wayward creation, not vice versa.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
A.R.T Pippin
Posted: 12/12/12 at 08:39pm
That makes more sense. I still think as Fosse saw it (not saying I agree or not), with Pippin's final decision that his rather mundane life wasn't a bad way to be, the LP no longer has any power.

BROADWAYWORLD TV