BWW Reviews: Oh, It's Time to Start Living! PIPPIN Dances in to Fisher Theatre Thru June 21
"What is my purpose in life?" is a question asked by many people as they ponder the reasons for their existence. Finding one's raison d'être could be the ever-elusive challenge, and should you never discover it, you are in good company. It is an existential question that lingers eternally for people who really want to have a life that matters. Now on stage at The Fisher Theatre is the musical PIPPIN, the tale of existential woe.
Diane Paulus' new, circus-inspired production of Pippin features an acrobatic troupe of performers, led by the charismatic Leading Player. The ensemble cast tells the story of Pippin, a young prince who longs to find passion and adventure in his life. To prove his loyalty to his distracted father, King Charles, Pippin goes to war. But when the Leading Player convinces the prince to fight tyranny, Pippin kills Charles and takes over the throne. Realizing his mistake, Pippin begs the Leading Player to bring his father back to life, and she obliges. The prince falls in love with Catherine, a widow with a young son, and (much to the Leading Player's chagrin), Pippin struggles to decide whether he should settle down and pursue a peaceful life or continue to make magic with the dazzling troupe of performers.
From the moment the Leading Player beckons the audience into the big top, the first-ever Broadway revival of Pippin is a sensational spectacle. As the story unfolds, acrobats fly through the air, contort themselves into impressive positions and perform classic circus tricks. Even the leading actors get in on the action, throwing swords, riding unicycles, hula hooping, and even flying on the trapeze. Pippin is a two-and-a-half-hour, high-energy extravaganza that makes for a positively electrifying night at the theater.
PIPPIN is the story of an extraordinary young man who seeks an extraordinary life. For starters, SAM LIPS (Pippin) is gorgeous, and serves as serious eye candy for the audience, who, incidentally gets to join in on the show's catchiest number, "No Time at All"
That number is led by ADRIENNE BARBEAU (Berthe) who broke into Broadway as the original Rizzo in Grease. She then played the daughter on TV's Maude. Later, she made film and TV appearances which prominently displayed her ample bosoms. In PIPPIN she reprises the role of sexy grandmother, originally played in 1972 by Irene Ryan from The Beverly Hillbillies. Ryan was pretty dreadful in the role. Barbeau gives the role justice.
I believe everyone was amazed how great Barbeau looks, considering she's a 70 year old actress. She's still smoking hot and has ample bosoms. Her performance while hanging upside down, swinging from a trapeze, groped by a young muscular hunk, was absolutely stellar. How does anyone sing while hanging upside down from her heels? I guess it takes talent that is way beyond my understanding.
LISA KARLIN (Leading Player) had a pitch-perfect voice that stunned the audience. The role is similar to the night club ring master in Cabaret, but not as sleazy. Karlin stepped in to play the part after Sasha Allen was injured herself several weeks ago.
The staging and lighting were magnificent in this tour. The circus tent background worked perfectly and the costumes dazzled in the spotlights. The talent required to be in this show is almost unattainable - who can have the muscles, looks, acting skills, dancing skills, singing skills and acrobatic prowess to make this show run so smoothly? Each cast member is one in a million.
PIPPIN runs thru June 21. For tickets and information, kindly visit http://www.broadwayindetroit.com/ .
NATIONAL TOUR CAST & BIOS
LISA KARLIN (Leading Player)
ADRIENNE BARBEAU (Berthe)
SAM LIPS (Pippin)
JOHN RUBINSTEIN (Charles)
SABRINA HARPER (Fastrada, u/s Leading Player, u/s Berthe)
LOUIS EL (Player) First Perf
BRADLEY BENJAMIN (Player, u/s Catherine, u/s Fastrada)
MARK BURRELL (Swing, Assistant Choreographer, Dance Captain, u/s Charles)
MATHEW deGUZMAN (Player, u/s Lewis)
SAMMY DINNEEN (Player)
HENRY GOTTFRIED (Swing, u/s Pippin, u/s Lewis)
KELSEY JAMIESON (Player)
PRESTON JAMIESON (Player)
LISA KARLIN (Player, u/s Leading Player, u/s Berthe
ALAN KELLY (Player, u/s Charles)
MÉLODIE LAMOUREUX (Player)
STEPHEN SAYEGH (Theo)
JAKE BURMAN (Theo) Begins Perf
KATIE SMITH (Player)
TORY TROWBRIDGE (Player, u/s Catherine)
KATE WESLER (Swing, u/s Fastrada)
BORRIS YORK (Player)
ADRIENNE BARBEAU (Berthe) began her career in 1963 with the San Jose Civic Light Opera. After graduating high school, she traveled with a musical comedy revue, entertaining our servicemen on Army bases throughout Southeast Asia. In 1965, she moved to New York and made her Broadway debut as Hodel, in "Fiddler on the Roof". A Tony nomination and a Theatre World Award for her creation of Rizzo in the original Broadway production of "Grease" led her back to California and the role of Bea Arthur's daughter, Carol, in the hit series "Maude".
Since then she has become a best- selling author, recording artist, and star of numerous features, films for television, concert performances, musicals and plays. Movie fans know her best for her performances in "The Fog", "Escape from New York", "Creepshow", "Swamp Thing", "Back to School", and "Cannonball Run". Her recent films include the Academy Award winning "ARGO", and the soon to be released "Divine Access", "In Extremis", "Malevolence 3", and "The Second Chance Sanctuary".
ADRIENNE has a Golden Globe nomination and over 450 screen performances to her credit - "Maude" and HBO's "Carnivale" among her favorites. Her recent appearances include "Criminal Minds", "Sons of Anarchy", and the Hallmark film "The Memory Book".
Off camera, ADRIENNE is the voice of Catwoman in "Batman, The Animated Series", Ms. Simone in "Scooby-Do on Zombie Island", and Scooter's Mom in the 3-D animated film "Fly Me to the Moon". She can be heard in a myriad of video games: God of War and Halo 4 among them.
ADRIENNE is the author of three books: the best-selling memoir "There Are Worse Things I Could Do"; the comedic thriller "Vampyres of Hollywood" and its comedy romance sequel, "Love Bites". She is currently at work on the third in the series.
SAM LIPS (Pippin). Sam Lips is so happy to be playing Pippin after understudying the role in the Broadway company. He was also on Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella as the understudy for Prince Topher. National tours: Wicked (u/s Fiyero). Regional: St. Louis MUNY, Music Theater of Wichita, Pittsburgh CLO. B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from University of Michigan. Thanks to Nicolosi & Co., Mike Ruckles, Curtis and my ever-supportive family.
JOHN RUBINSTEIN (Charles). Broadway: originated title role in Pippin (1972), Children of a Lesser God (Tony, Drama Desk awards), Caine Mutiny, Ragtime, Hurlyburly, M. Butterfl y, Fools, Love Letters, Pippin (2014). Off-B'way/regional: Counsellor-at-Law (Lortel Award), Wicked (L.A.). 30 fi lms; two TV series: "Family," "Crazy Like a Fox," 300 episodes. Stage and TV director; fi lm composer and conductor; college professor (USC); narrator of over 100 audiobooks. Loves Bonnie and all fi ve extraordinary children.
LISA KARLIN (Player, u/s Leading Player, u/s Berthe) New York: Broadway: The Addams Family (Ancestor, u/s Wednesday Addams) Ragtime (Swing, u/s Emma Goldman) Off Broadway: The York Theatre: Delilah (Delilah) NATIONAL TOURS:Cats (Demeter, u/s Grizabella) REGIONAL: The Arvada Center: Chess (Florence Vassy) Evita (Eva Peron) The John W. Engeman Theatre: Sweet Charity (Nickie Pignatelli, u/s Charity) NCAA Papermill: Chicago (Velma Kelly) AWARDS: Best Supporting Actress New Hampshire Theatre Awards for Velma Kelly in Chicago The Paper Mill Playhouse, PCLO, and KC Starlight: Disney's The Little Mermaid (Aquata, u/s Ursula). Pippin is a dream show of hers and Lisa would like to thank the entire creative and producing team for this amazing opportunity.
SABRINA HARPER (Fastrada, u/s Leading Player, u/s Berthe). Broadway: Pippin (swing, u/s Fastrada, Berthe, Catherine). European credits: Chicago (Roxie), A Chorus Line (Cassie), The Producers (Usherette, u/s Ulla), 42nd Street (Anytime Annie, u/s Peggy Sawyer), Marilyn The Musical (Marilyn Monroe), Man of La Mancha (Antonia), Phantom of the Opera (Meg). Thanks and love to my mom and rb for supporting my journey. This is for you Toto. www.sabrinaharper.com.
LOUIS EL (Player)
BRADLEY BENJAMIN (Player, u/s Catherine, u/s Fastrada). Credits: Oklahoma! (Broadway revival), Thoroughly Modern Millie (fi rst national tour), Phantom (Las Vegas), Hairspray (Las Vegas/Hollywood Bowl), Radio City Christmas Spectacular (RCMH/tour), Leap of Faith (Ahmanson), Brigadoon (N.Y.C. workshop). L.E.A.P. grad. Thanks to my family!
MARK BURRELL (Swing, Assistant Choreographer, Dance Captain, u/s Charles) a Michigan native, is thrilled to be joining the cast of Pippin as Assistant Choreographer, Dance Captain/Swing. Mark made his Broadway debut in the First National Tour of Fosse. He has held the title of Assistant Choreographer for Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular starring The World Famous Rockettes for the past 10 years. Mark is quickly becoming recognized as one of the premier teachers and coaches of the New York Metro area. His motivating yet demanding style is shaping the next generation of dancers by setting high standards for students and pushing them to test their fullest limits. Mark provides an impressive array of performing, teaching and choreography credits. Recently, his choreography was chosen to be produced in an evening of "Downtown Dancing @ The Joyce" in NYC a benefit supporting Dancer's Responding To AIDS. Mark's performance experience is extensive throughout the United States and internationally, including engagements in Japan, Zambia, Peru, and South Africa. Mark was featured in the motion picture, The Producers: A Movie Musical. Other theatrical productions include: CATS, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Broadway for Hilary, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Television credits include: CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien and MTV's Step 2 This. Mark has been involved in numerous industrials for such companies as Macy's Department Stores, Ford Motor Company, Intel Computers, IBM, and Tupperware.
Mark is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, where he remains on the faculty as a summer instructor, master teacher, and choreographer. He has also engaged in the classical and contemporary works of such esteemed choreographers as Lar Lubovich, Paul Taylor, Jiri Kylian, Lila York, and David Parker and The Bang Group where he is an honorary guest artist. Mark continues to perform as a principle dancer with Chet Walker's company Walker Dance.
Mark has also been on the jazz faculty at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. He has taught in many studios across the nation as well as internationally at Tokyo Ballet, Broadway Dance Center in Japan, The Institute for the Blind, and Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA). He has been the resident choreographer for The Barbara Ingram School of the Arts for the past three years where he has done productions of Beauty and the Beast, Legally Blonde and The Wizard of Oz.
Mark's former students can be seen on numerous Broadway stages as well as in many collegiate dance lines, national commercials, as well as being featured on So You Think You Can Dance both here and in Israel. He has also coached and served as a mentor for celebrities on Dancing with The Stars. Mark continues to perform professionally while traveling into different studios around his region and nationally inspiring the youth of the dance world.
MATHEW deGUZMAN (Player, u/s Lewis) has been performing in the theatre professionally for 20 years! Having been seen on Broadway and across the country regionally he is thrilled to be a part of this amazing production. Broadway: Follies (7 TONY nominations including Best Revival), A Christmas Story, The Musical (3 TONY nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score). Regional credits include Paper Mill Playhouse, Houston TUTS, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Riverside, Flat Rock, North Carolina Theatre, and Fulton Theatre.
SAMMY DINNEEN (Player) Training: National Centre for Circus Arts. International performances: 7 Fingers - Traces, Canada and America. Batman Live world arena tour. Acrobatic Productions: Dubai National day. Ford, Geneva Motor Show. UK Cabaret, Hippodrome, Cafe de Paris etc
HENRY GOTTFRIED (Swing, u/s Pippin, u/s Lewis). Previous credits: NBC's "Peter Pan Live!" Visited more than 30 countries across the world with the Yale Whiffenpoofs. B.A. in Theater Studies from Yale University. Thank you to Andrew at Telsey & Co. Love to my parents.
KELSEY JAMIESON (Player). Broadway: Pippin. Cirque du Soleil, 7 doigts de la main, Cirque Eloize. Love to Preston, my family, and Witness Protection for this awesome new life.
PRESTON JAMIESON (Player) Canadian born, Preston grew up dancing but eventually transitioned into the circus world. Since graduating from L'Ecole Nationale de Cirque in 2009 he spent four years performing for Cirque du Soleil which included their performance in the 84th annual Academy Awards. He spent the last year in the Broadway production of Pippin and is ecstatic to now be a part of the first national tour.
ALAN KELLY (Player, u/s Charles) Dublin born Alan trained at the National Performing Arts School (NPAS) and the College of Dance in Dublin. After moving to London, he was awarded a scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts graduating as Class President. He has a passion for choreography and teaches at some of the leading vocational schools in New York, Germany, Ireland and the UK. Alan is also a member of the American Actors Equity Association (AEA) and currently resides in New York City.
Theatre credits include:
Head / Understudy King Charlemagne in Pippin (US National Tour & Japan) directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Chet Walker, Ensemble in Tanz Der Vampire (Theater Des Westens, Berlin & Palladium Theater, Stuttgart) directed by Roman Polanski and choreographed by Dennis Callahan, Dance Captain / Swing in We Will Rock You (Apollo Theater, Stuttgart), directed by Ben Elton and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, Dandini in Cinderella (The Capitol, Horsham) directed by Michael Gattrell and choreographed by Danielle Drayton, Swing in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre, London) directed by Ben Elton and choreographed by
Arlene Phillips, Ensemble in Aida (Musical Sommer Amstetten, Vienna) directed and choreographed by Kim Duddy, Assistant Dance Captain / Swing in We Will Rock You (Theater 11, Zurich & Raimund Theater, Vienna) directed by Ben Elton and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, and Dance Captain in Cinderella (Civic Theatre, Darlington) directed by Michael Gyngell and choreographed by Francesca Whitburn.
Film credits include:
Tim Cantore in Novartis (Team People) directed by George Cauttero, dancer in Ella Enchanted (Disney /Mirimax) directed by Bruno Tonioli and David in I Don't Believe It (Kairos) directed by Cecil Allen.
Television credits include:
Dancer on Wilkommen Bei Carmen Nebel (ZDF) directed by Joachim Jaeckel, Zurich Tennis Open (RTL) directed by Uwe Petersen, Tony in Abigail's Party (ITV) directed by Chris Yates, dancer on Entertainment Daily (TV3) directed by Hassan Christopher and Marissa Labog, Ireland AM (TV3) directed by Ben Frow, choreographer / dancer for Hip-Hop Ident (TV3) directed by Saileóg Lally, singer on Pop TV An tSamhraidh
(TG4) directed by Mary Kingston and dancer on Star Stream (RTÉ) directed by Steve Curran.
Audiobook & Radio credits include:
Narrator for The Admiral's Heart (audiobook) written by Danelle Harmon, writer for Pot Noodle (FM104) and Drip in Let's Play Pretend (RTÉ Radio 1) directed by Ger Bourke.
Further Credits include:
Model for Mister (NYC) directed by Javier Cobo, dancer for Beth Ditto (XL, NYC) directed by Ben Totty, Lookin' Fo' Csaba by Brettlef B (music video) directed by Jon Smith, model for GMF (Weekend, Berlin) directed by Lorenz Kosakowski, There's Always Something Better (Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney) directed by Steven Thiel and Sigma (BioScience) directed by DK Models, choreographer of Amy's Angel (Olympia Theatre, Dublin) directed by Jill Doyle & Eamon Farrell and Dean Monroe (Southbank, London), Brian Friedman in Believe in Yourself (Playhouse, Epsom) directed by Betty Laine, choreographer of 24/Zero (workshop) directed by Robbie White and Hamilton Sergent, host at The Variety Club Showbusiness Awards (Grosvenor House Hotel, London) BBC, Landlady & Emcee in Lucky Stiff (Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom) directed by Tudor Davies, dancer in VHI Dance Blitz (Sugar Club, Dublin) directed by Tabitha & Napoleon D'Umo, Stan Laurel in Seeing Tomorrow (Playhouse, Epsom) directed by Betty Laine, Seymour Krelborn / Swing in Little Shop of Horrors
(Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom) directed by Maureen Hughes, Joel Nyquist & Jim Wanamaker in Is There Life After High School? (Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom) directed by Tudor Davies, dancer in BT2 Dance Off (BT2, Dublin) directed by Jane Shortall, Zookeeper in Our Day Out (Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom) directed by Andy Smith, dancer for Carol Anthony (BMG) directed by Jane Shortall and The Name of The Game (Playhouse, Epsom) directed by Betty Laine, choreographer of The Power Of Three (Olympia Theatre, Dublin) directed by Jill Doyle & Eamon Farrell and dancer in Hair 2003 (Vicar St, Dublin) directed by Jane Shortall and the Coca-Cola Form & Fusion
Fashion Awards (Green Glens Arena, Cork) directed by Evelyn Russell.
MÉLODIE LAMOUREUX (Player) is a Graduate of the prestigious École Nationale de Cirque de Montreal. Mélodie has traveled the world performing for Celebrity Cruises, specializing in hula hoop and aerial hoop. She has also worked for Cirque Éloize, Cirque du Soleil and more. @hoopmelo www.melodielamoureux.com
STEPHEN SAYEGH (Theo) is so excited to be joining the tour of Pippin. Theater credits include A Little Princess, Oliver!, A Christmas Carol. Other credits include Super Bowl XLVIII, "Saturday Night Live," "Sesame Street." He would like to thank his teachers Amelia, Gulia, Mark and Thommie and also Take 3, TM Talent. I love you Mom, Dad and Emma. www.stephensayegh.com.
JAKE BURMAN (Theo)
KATIE SMITH (Player) As an Acro-Gymnast from age 6, I achieved European and World Championship medals for Team GB. At 16 I joined Cirque Du Soleil as an acrobatic fl yer, performing around the world for 4 years.
TORY TROWBRIDGE (Player, u/s Catherine) is a Los Angeles native and is thrilled to be a part of this troupe. National tour: Cats. Other: A Chorus Line (Val, MTW), Singin' in the Rain (PCLO).... Bisous to her loving family and BBR!
KATE WESLER (Swing, u/s Fastrada) Regional: Company member for two seasons at MTWichita. CCM Grad. Thanks to Patty and Wayne for believing in me, and Telsey and Clear Talent for making this happen. Love to Mom, Dad, and J&A! Proud AEA Member.www.katewesler.com
BORRIS YORK (Player) Regional: The Muny, TUTS, KC Starlight, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Casa Mañana, Music Theatre of Wichita, Stages St. Louis. TV: "Smash" (NBC). Love to my incredible family and friends. Psalm 37:3-4. Follow Borris at www.borrisyork.com, @borrisyork.