Next up for the Broadway in Norfolk series is “Pippin,” coming to Chrysler Hall for an 8:00 show on Friday, February 24 and two shows on Saturday, February 25.
The musical “Pippin” has been around for a long time. It premiered on Broadway in 1972, won nine Tony Awards, and ran until 1977. It was reinvented, reenergized and revived in 2013. It won four Tony Awards that year, including Best Revival of a Musical.
Unless you are a true Broadway musical fan, you might not know what “Pippin” is all about. Is it a 70’s pop rock musical? Is it serious statement about current affairs? Is it a mash up of dreams, reality, places and times? Yes, yes, and yes.
I talked to Mark Burrell, assistant director and assistant choreographer for the production coming to Norfolk, about these questions, and more. Burrell is a man who has played almost every role in “Pippin” throughout the years, so we had found ourselves a proper authority.
What is Pippin?
“Pippin” began as a student project of Stephen Schwartz. Stephen Schwartz is the creator of the huge Broadway hits “Wicked” and “Godspell.” Stephen Schwartz collaborated with Diane Paulus to reinvent, reenergize and revive “Pippin” in 2013. If you saw this show way back in the 70’s, you need to see it again.
“Pippin” is about today. Pippin is a young man who has to decide what he is willing to do, and what he is willing to risk, to become famous. Should he “reach for glory at any cost?” Sounds like something we watch on the TV every day.
“Pippin” takes place in a circus. That means you get to see acrobatics, knife-throwing, flame juggling, and other ‘death defying acts.’ Your children will have fun and so will you.
“Pippin” has some great 70’s pop rock songs. Burrell said that the music was updated and reworked for the 2013 revival.
“Stephen Schwartz upped the percussive line,” Burrell said. “The songs are loud and proud.”
“Pippin” has lots of jazz hands. The original “Pippin” was choreographed by the great Bob Fosse, known for jazz hands, “precision, tension and release.” Burrell said that this revival version has been redone “in the style of Bob Fosse” by Chet Walker.
“The dancing is seamless with the acrobatics,” he said. “It is sensual but androgynous. It is cutting edge.”
“Pippin” will make your eyeballs happy. It takes place in a circus. Burrell said it’s “full of color and dramatic shapes.” There is fire and illusion. It looks sinister and joyful, sometimes at the same time.
“Pippin” is surreal. One of the main characters is The Leading Player. The Leading Player breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audiences. There are dream sequences that might be real. You will be asked to suspend your belief in reality. It was the 70’s after all. It’s all good.
“Pippin” will entertain you and engage you. It will explore some really big, life questions. You’re going to love it if you like big Broadway musicals. You’re going to love it if you like to engage in deep discussions about the meaning of life. I won’t give away the ending, but the ending is up in the air, for you to decide.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to here.