Pippin Now and Then

Yesterday on a whim, I got a ticket for the matinee of Pippin (which took home a clutch of Tonys last Sunday) and it was money well spent. In particular, Patina Miller and Andrea Martin were fantastic as were all the acrobatics and other circus-centered actions. (I was especially impressed with a very casual-in-passing-knife act in the middle of one number and…Andrea Martin….boy oh boy!). There was even a Lucy-like-dog* at one point.

The original production was playing when my family moved to the NYC area from the Midwest and I vividly remember the following television ad with Ben Vereen and so shed a sentimental tear when the familiar music began.

Here’s Patina’s version (followed by “Simple Joys” which gives a good taste of the acrobatics):

*Little black poodly-like thing.

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7 responses to “Pippin Now and Then

  1. truthfully, i liked pippin more than matilda! i realize this is heresy. but i had a hard time HEARING a lot of matilda’s fabulous lyrics, and i think my expectations were simply ratcheted too high. whereas i’d always thought of pippin (a show my brother was the leading player in, in hebrew, at camp ramah in new england!) as HUGELY dopey, a dated exploration of Me Decade narcissism and Life As a Personal Journey, man. great music, IDIOTIC book. (that said, i knew the entire show by heart because the dude from Greatest American Hero, upon whom i had a massive crush, was in the broadway revival when i was a kid…so i got the cast album and was smitten w/the show from afar. i kind of knew it was stupid even then, though.) anyhoo, diane paulus’s production made me reevaluate the show. making the commedia dell’arte (sp?) stuff into nutballs circus stuff not only pumped up the show visually but made pippin’s choice (SPOILER ALERT) to settle for something small make sense more, b/c the glory he’d been seeking earlier looked so much bigger and flashier and ultimately emptier. and the actress who played whassername, pippin’s love interest, TOTALLY created a (very funny, very quirky, far savvier than the text might indicate) character out of whole cloth, and made the sexism of the show seem less as a result. i dunno, it’s prolly simply that when i bought tix i was beyond psyched for matilda and kind of whatevs about pippin — life is all about expectation-management. (at matilda my daughter and i did get to sit next to and chat with a lovely kidbook author/professor and his librarian wife, whereas at pippin i sat next to yammering tourists deafeningly crinkling candy wrappers, so that’s a point to matilda.)

    oh, and i did think matilda’s production number at the Tonys ICED every other number in the show except NPH’s opening number. i hope it leads to a ticket-sale-spike despite nto doing that well awards-wise.

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    • I first saw Matilda in London and did notice the diction problem when I saw it here. But as for Pippin I had been told that the music was only so-so by my sister and niece who saw it at the ART and besides that l basically knew it had Fosse-ish dancing and had something to do with Charlemagne.

      Tourists. at. Broadway. shows. Yeah. That was the case on my second time at the NYC Matilda. As for Pippin there were shouting Italians behind me. Fortunately they shut up once the show started:)

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      • the WORST audience experience i’ve had was at Newsies. the audience seemed to be made up entirely of people who knew the various chorus boys from So You THink You Can Dance, which apparently was the source of much of the casting. it was all teenage girls and middle-aged ladies acting like they were at home in front of their TVs, as if (and hell yeah i realize i sound like an insufferable snob here) they’d never left their homes before except maybe to go to a One Direction concert and didn’t know they WEREN’T in front of their tvs, SCREEEEAMING the real names of the dancers and squealing explosively and yammering away, not even whispering, during the dialogue because their faves weren’t on stage, and uhhhhgghghghh SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.

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  2. I was amused when I went alone to How to Succeed with Daniel Radcliff and noticed several solo women, but they were …er…a bit younger than me. Fortunately, they kept the screaming to a minimum. (I forgot to mention that the tourists at Matilda were parties of very dressed up little girls carrying American Girl dolls.)

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  3. and your sister really thought the music was so-so? the only thing i thought was good about the show as written was the music! and i thought it was GREAT. still do.

    plus, as you said, OMG andrea martin. and that guy who played pippin was way hotter than the greatest american hero dude with his floppy curls. (or john rubinstein from the original production, with HIS floppy curls). and to be even more shallow, mmm, so many gorgeous underdressed bodies.

    on the downside, was kind of shocked at how lazy terrence mann’s performance was and how he was the worst offender diction-wise. he’s a big hame! was paulus afraid to tell him to crisp the hell up vocally? is he just past his prime? i mean, i used to know War is a Science by heart, and it shouldn’t be too hard to bring it all back, but i couldn’t understand anything he was saying. granted, *i* couldn’t articulate anything so challengingly gilbert-n-sullivan patter-y fast, but i sing in my shower. for free. he also just seemed checked-out, and it was still in previews when i saw it — too early to be phoning it in.

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    • 22 year-old niece and my sister — yep, neither thought much of the music. I was unfamiliar with most of it going in and quite liked it. Pippin player was cute (and even moreso at the Tonys where I saw him close up:). As for War is a Science — couldn’t make out most of it either.

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