BWW Review: Le Petit Theatre Celebrates 100 Years with First Show of the Season PIPPIN
This past weekend was the second in a three week run of Stephen Schwartz's PIPPIN at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. The show opened their 2016-2017 season in Le Petit's 100th year, which is something to celebrate in and of itself. New Orleans is full of history and Le Petit has certainly been a wonderful part of that history for a whole century! So before I go any further... congratulations to the Le Petit family, and happy 100th birthday!
With the excitement of 100 years of great theatre, I was hoping that PIPPIN would be a banging production, but instead I found myself a bit lost and confused and I'm honestly not sure whether it's because the show is a bit out-dated or because of this particular production. It may be a little of both. With the recent revival starring Patina Miller, Matthew James Thomas, and Andrea Martin PIPPIN made a come-back in popularity especially after television viewers were exposed to the energetic opening number "Magic to Do." I suppose after listening to the revival soundtrack and seeing that particular number performed repeatedly I maybe got a wrong impression of the show or had an expectation that the whole of the show would be just as lively.
Here's the thing about revivals though... when a show is so deeply rooted in a particular time period of references and musical style (can you say 70s?) a revival needs some updating if there's any hope of younger audiences catching the point. We saw a perfectly updated revival of Schwartz's GODSPELL on Broadway several years back with current cultural references, and an updated wardrobe and score. While the revival of PIPPIN has some nice updates in their set and wardrobe, the cultural references and music need some work.
As far as Le Petit's production I, again, don't really know if it left me wanting because of the show itself or because of their interpretation. What I can say is this... despite some awkward moments, gaps in dialogue, and a less than impressive conclusion, the talent in this production was not lacking. Although PatRick Thomas Cragin who played Pippin seemed to struggle a bit with the score, he did a wonderful job creating a character that I both felt sorry for and identified with. The whole idea that Pippin is going through this quarter life crisis of sorts and looking to find his path in life is something that everyone can relate to on some level, and Patrick clicked into this very well.
The lovely Beverly Trask was a kick and a half as Pippin's grandmother Berthe, and lead a fun rendition of "No Time at All" complete with audience participation. MerEdith Owen was funny yet heartwarming as Pippin's love interest, Catherine. Founding member of The NOLA Project, Alex Martinez Wallace was absolutely hysterical as Pippin's ridiculous stepbrother, Lewis. His flamboyant and silly antics were just perfect for capturing the character's essence. And, Trina Beck gave us a super sassy take on Pippin's stepmother Fastrada.
Last but certainly not least, our Leading Player, Jessica Mixon, carried the weight of the show on her shoulders powerfully and gracefully. And boy does she have a voice on her! A product of Loyola University's Theater program, the triple threat has been involved in well over 20 local productions in recent years and has also made appearances in some film and teleVision Productions. Jessica is a true talent, and I can't wait to see what she does next!
You've got one weekend left to catch PIPPIN at Le Petit, as the show runs through October 2. Check out http://www.lepetittheatre.com/ for tickets and more information on how you can join in on the magic before it's gone!