Pippin At The Music Box Theater Has Just The Right Amount Of Magic

The end of this season on Broadway brings an unexpected treat – the American Repertory Theater’s grand revival of the beloved musical Pippin. Director Diane Paulus has given this coming of age story a complete overhaul and now it’s part musical, part complicated circus performance and all fun.

Pippin first appeared on Broadway in 1970 and by now everyone is familiar with Stephen Schwarz’s songs and the story, penned by Roger O’Hirson. A group of traveling players tell the story of a 9th century emperor’s son, who goes on a quest of self discovery, trying to find his place in the world. And if the setup makes it sound quaint, be sure that this production is anything but. The circus theme allows for a lot of physicality in the performance and multiple numbers with complex choreography. Surprisingly however, all the jumping around does not detract from the story and the tricks by fire jugglers, teeterboards, knife throwing and contortionists help tease out the wandering nature of the mysterious players. The acrobatics are handed over to Montreal-based troupe 7 Doigts De La Main and it couldn’t be a more perfect match.

Of course, it’s no surprise that Paulus knows what she’s doing, having worked on the hugely successful Hair revival, as well as Porgy and Bess. But she is also directing some talented actors, who were all up to par with the musical’s physically demanding numbers. While Patina Miller, Terrence Mann and Andrea Martin all give solid performances in their respective roles as Leading Player, Pippin’s father and Pippin’s grandmother, it’s the relative newcomers in the leading roles who deserve a special commendation – Rachel Bay Jones and Pippin himself, Matthew James Thomas. Aside from his looks Thomas has also got the acting and singing chops to make a wonderful leading man and perfectly complements an already impressive production. As the season closes, Pippin is certainly good enough to end the show on a high.

Matthew James Thomas, Bryant Park
After his stint in 'Spiderman: Tun Off The Dark', James charms in his new role as Pippin.


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