Show Title: Pippin
Director: Diane Paulus
Theater: Music Box
Cast: Kyle Dean Massey, Ciara Renee, Terrence Mann, Charlotte D’Amboise, Annie Potts, Rachel Bay Jones
My Rating: 5 Stars
Content Rating 16+ (adult themes/scenes, language)
Should I pay full price for a ticket: The Music Box is an intimate theater; the first time I saw it, I was on the front row, which was awesome, but I missed some stuff. The second time, I specifically bought Mezz seats and they were PERFECT, although I missed being so close to the actors. I recommend Mezz for this one, just to see all the circus tricks, but it’s a pretty safe one to do rush tickets for.
The only thing I knew about Pippin when I sat down in the Music Box Theater was that guys tried to sing “Corner of the Sky” all the time (and fail about 95% of the time), and the performances that I had seen on the Tony Awards and the Late Show. So I was thinking…ok cool, circus stuff will be fun…Stephen Schwartz did the music, so it’s bound to be a pretty good score…I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
It was easily one of my favorite shows I saw on my trip. I rearranged my show schedule so I could see it again. I paid for a full price ticket so I could get a better view (because we sat on the very front row the first time, which was AWESOME cause we were literally two feet away from the actors, but we couldn’t see a few things). The show absolutely blew me away, and now I’m a teensy bit obsessed.
And by teensy bit obsessed, I mean, if I had the time and money I would fly back to NYC today and see it every day for an entire week.
Truthfully, I still get a little mixed up when trying to explain the plot to people. It’s a little nebulous. But here’s the gist: Pippin is a young man in search of something fulfilling in life. With the help of a mysterious character known as The Leading Player, he runs through many options, some that he enjoys for a while (war, sex, ordinary life), although eventually, he realizes he’s meant for something extraordinary, even though he doesn’t know what it is. This story is played by a group of circus performers, giving the entire show a whimsical, mysterious air. The set is the inside of a circus tent with poles that the performers climb up and down, trapezes that fly in from the ceiling, among many other circus tricks.
This show has knife throwing:
Awesome Fosse choreography:
And gorgeous and stirring musical numbers like “Morning Glow” which I just SOBBED through:
I certainly didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. This show is hilarious. It’s almost Monty Python-esque in some of its humor. Clever writing and brilliant delivery by the actors (especially Kyle Dean Massey as Pippin and Terrence Mann as Charlemagne) kept me laughing the entire show (until the shattering finale that I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR).
The scale, like any spectacular, sparkly Broadway show, is enormous. Here’s the performance from the Tony Awards (where they won Best Musical Revival) in which the cast performs “Corner of the Sky” and the incredible opener “Magic to Do”:
Caution: This is NOT a show to take kids to. Aside from having a rather sophisticated sense of humor, there are some rather raunchy parts (no nudity or anything, just not something I would want a kid to see). Not to mention that it’s got some language.
Here’s another marvelous song from Act 1, where the Leading Player talks about poor Pippin’s struggle in finding fulfillment. It’s got some AMAZING circus tricks in it. This is the Original Broadway Cast (the amazing Patina Miller who won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for this part) performing “Simple Joys”:
*SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE SHOW. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE END, SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH*
There’s an interesting romance in this story, between Pippin and an unlikely woman (an older widow). And by older I mean a few years, not like, 30. It ends up being a very sweet relationship. It also ends up being the fulfilling thing in his life that he leaves the Leading Player and other circus people for. A fact which the Leading Player does not take too well. In fact, she gets very angry and tells everyone to pack up, which they do, taking off Pippin and Catherine’s costumes (Catherine is the woman he falls in love with) and makeup, and then, she orders that the tent be put away. Much to my surprise, the tent rolled up, revealing the backstage of the Music Box theater. All the lights were turned off except for one side light, allowing Pippin and Catherine to be seen. The Leading Player even orders the orchestra to stop playing. Just before leaving the stage, she tells Pippin to try singing without any music, which he, of course, does anyway, in one of the most powerful stage pictures I’ve ever seen: The main character, standing on a bare stage, lit only by a side light, singing a beautiful melody a capella, in the culmination of a show about looking for something extraordinary to do with his life. I was sobbing. Then, as Catherine and Pippin leave the stage, Catherine’s son stays, reprising “Corner of the Sky”, which draws the Players back out onstage to reprise “Magic to Do”. It was the coolest ending of a show that I think I’ve ever seen.
Anyway, the cast I saw was AMAZING. Kyle Dean Massey played Pippin, and that man is so ridiculously talented (not to mention extremely hot, which is VERY important since his shirt is off quite a bit in this show lol); I saw him in Next to Normal on Broadway as Gabe, loved him in that, but I adored him as Pippin. His voice is so beautiful, he’s an insanely amazing dancer, and his acting is so natural and spot on. Ciara Renee was mysterious, sexy, and a little creepy as the Leading Player, with an amazing voice that filled the theater.
Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann, real life husband and wife team and Broadway legends who play husband and wife onstage were hilarious and terrible as Pippin’s parents. The whole cast is so ridiculously talented, especially since many of them are singing and doing circus tricks at the same time. Rachel Bay Jones as Catherine had some of the best comedic timing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I’m seriously jealous of her timing. Every phrase that she said was hysterical, and yet, when we got to “Love Song” in Act 2, with Pippin and Catherine sitting on the floor at the front of the stage, with Pippin playing the guitar, she was subtle and romantic and adorable. She’s an extremely talented actress. When we first met her onstage, I didn’t think I was going to like her, and I was like, WAIT, she’s Pippin’s love interest? You’ve got to be kidding me. And then, she completely changed my mind by the end of the show.
So here’s one of my favorite songs; this is the cast I saw (Kyle Dean Massey and Ciara Renee); this is called “On the Right Track” where the Leading Player is encouraging Pippin, since he’s feeling pretty down about not knowing what to do with his life. These two are incredible triple threats; check it out!
This show sounds awesome, right? Well, lucky for you, Pippin is starting a National Tour this fall! I’m definitely getting tickets, and you should too! It’s an incredibly entertaining show, and I promise, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll belt out “In Just No Time at All” which is an audience participation sing-along, and your heart will race at the death-defying circus tricks that this amazing show brings to the stage.