BWW Reviews: Witness the Awe-Inspiring Spectacle that is PIPPIN, Launching its National Tour in Denver!
The award winning revival of PIPPIN (book by Roger O. Hirson, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz) launches in Denver at the Buell Theatre now until September 20th. PIPPIN tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. Will he choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory? The show is noted for many Broadway standards including "Magic To Do," "Corner of the Sky," "Glory," "No Time at All," "Morning Glow," and "Love Song."
"We've got magic to do"....and magic they did with an awe-inspiring reinvention of this beloved broadway classic that brought a spark if childlike wonder to everyones eye! When the curtain first dropped so did my jaw and I was simply amazed at the sheer magnitude of this spectacle of a show! There were so many amazing moments during the show that at times I didn't want to blink in fear of missing another sensational moment of effect. I think that infusing in the circus with this show was like adding peanut butter to jelly and the two work so well together. Add in the fantastic Fosse choreography and a cast that you can tell is in love with their songs and this show and you have a winning production that will tour for years! Now I know that the show is a little front heavy and they delve into more of the story and less song and pizzaz in Act Two, but overall I was in absolute awe of the entire musical. I also know that many were not fond of how dark it gets more towards the end, but I found it enticing...and here's why. One thing that I discovered while contemplating this sensational show was its similarities to the movie collection of Toy Story. Here my stance on that - when you are a child, your imagination has no bounds and you go to fantastic lands and have amazing quests with all of your toys. Get it - the ensemble in this show are all toys and the newly imagined circus feel emphasized this aspect even further. Unfortunately when we grow up, we grow out of so many cherished things in our lives, including toys (thats why the leading player pleads with Pippin at the end and has a dramatic tantrum that results in the complete desolation of the set); thus leaving those items that used to be our entire world cast into darkness.....in a box....in the attic. I so loved the new "alternate" ending with the addition of the new boy's curiosity that was a breath of new life into the quest, the magic, and the toys! This left me with a sense of renewal, invigoration, regeneration, and hope!
If Broadway were to have a "Fantasy Football Draft" for national tours then then this exceptional ensemble would be it! With With a collection of new ingenues, beloved, seasoned gems, and returning favorites. We were all truly honored that the talented Matthew James Thomas rejoined the cast from the Broadway revival to the national tour as Pippin. The thing I appreciate most about this actor is that he takes you on the journey of Pippin from innocent boy to maturing man and was so charismatic in the role with a voice that was so engaging, One work describes Sasha Allen performance as Leading Player -FIERCE! Whether protagonist or antagonist, she was absolutely magnetic and glided the show effortlessly along. I enjoyed her stunning voice and stellar dancing in Glory and Simple Joys; and her manipulation of the entire show as part puppetmaster was also fun to watch. Lucie Arnaz stole the show with her delightful and tender portrayal of Berthe. Add in singing passionately in No Time At All while hanging upside down several feet in the air and you have an audience on their feet! The original Pippin from 1972, Tony Award winner John Rubinstein joined the cast as was special treat for the audience. He has not lost a bit of his charm over the years (as he clearly expressed in the song War is a Science) and was funny, dynamic, and yet caring in the role of Pippin's father, as Charles. Sabrina Harper was sassy, and conniving Pippin's stepmother, Fastrada and she totally owned her song, Spread a Little Sunshine. I loved the confliction that Kristine Reese brought to the role of love interest, Catherine. Her songs, And There He Was, King of Woman, and I Guess I'll Miss the Man were sweet and melodic with a tinge of sadness and her voice was simply lovely. The thing I really adored was when she broke from the part she was playing and started questioning who she actually was the her feeling for Pippin. This made her character so intriguing and brought such depth to her performance.
You do not want to miss this high energy and sensational show that; through its talented characters, dancers, and acrobats is sure to be the touring hit of the season!!! The national tour of PIPPIN is inspiring audiences at Denver Center's Buell Theatre now until September 20th. For tickets or more information, contact the Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org.
PHOTO CREDIT: Terry Shapiro
PICTURED ABOVE: Sasha Allen as Leading Player and Ensemble
Matthew James Thomas as Pippin and ensemble
Sasha Allen as Leading Player
John Rubenstien as Charles and ensemble
Matthew James Thomas as Pippin
Sasha Allen and Ensemble