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Time Out Theater Review: "Pippin"

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It first opened on the Great White Way in 1972 and now the first ever Broadway revival of the hit musical "Pippin" has made its debut. NY1 contributing critic David Cote of Time Out New York filed the following review.

I’ve always thought of circus and magic as opposites. Circus is about acts of strength and endurance. Magic is about illusion and deception. However, the wonderful revival of "Pippin" that just opened on Broadway puts such differences to rest. Combining the physical prowess of circus stars with the visual flash of stagecraft, this eye-popping, jaw-dropping extravaganza is the thrill of the season.


Ace director Diane Paulus, who in the interest of full disclosure is the sister of NY1 boss Steve Paulus, helms this revival of the beloved 1972 musical, with uplifting songs by Stephen Schwartz and a smart, comical book by Roger O. Hirson. Just as she breathed life into "Hair" and "Porgy and Bess" in recent seasons, Paulus finds a new twist on a classic by fusing Bob Fosse’s slinky, pelvic-jutting choreography with a flurry of circus acts juggling, trapeze and other feats of derring-do. It all works marvelously to tell the history of Pippin, son of medieval king Charlemagne, who goes on a series of adventures to find, as he puts it in song, his "Corner of the sky."

Part picaresque adventure, part groovy antiwar satire, Pippin is a curious mix of innocence and cynicism, appealing to both kids and adults. Acting as a seductive, slightly scary MC is Patina Miller as the Leading Player. Miller of course has taken on a role made iconic by Ben Vereen, and she distinguishes herself with slinky, steely intensity.

Besides the amazing troupe of circus professionals, the cast includes Andrea Martin as a feisty grandmother; Terrence Mann as Pippin’s crusty dad; Charlotte D’Amboise as his scheming mother; and in a scene-stealing turn, Rachel Bay Jones as a sweet, wistful widow who falls for Pippin. In the title role, Matthew James Thomas is the perfect princely hero.

With a production this visually stunning and musically strong, "Pippin" is sure to cast its enchantment over a new generation of youthful theatergoers. "Pippin" has magic to do and boy, does it do it.

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