Performing arts ~ Pippin at PPAC ~ Providence

Providence Performing Arts Center
220 Weybosset St.
Providence, Rhode Island

credit: Pippin Musical
If you know Pippin from either the original Broadway play or the 2000 movie starring William Katz, you know it's a play about a young man's search for Meaning in a world filled with light, color and noise.

The play starts off with a bang, with the Lead Player (Gabrielle McClinton) inviting the audience to "come and waste an hour or two" on the story of Pippin, son of Charlemagne. A troupe of acrobats performs with her, promising magic, miracles and a finale we'll never forget. The stunts are fun and energetic and get the audience pumped for the story.

Newly returned from school, Pippin* (Brian Flores) tells his father Charles "Charlemagne" that he wants to do great things. He wants to find Meaning.

Charles is played by John Rubinstein. I first saw him perform in the original Broadway cast of Children of a Lesser God. Before that, he originated the role of Pippin on Broadway. Now he plays Pippin's father. It's the circle of life.

Under Charles' leadership, Pippin tries finding glory on the battlefield, but it doesn't work for him. He escapes to the country.

Enter Berthe, Pippin's earthy and forthright grandmother. Her advice? "Pippin, you need to get laid." She's played by Adrienne Barbeau, whose "In just no time at all," brought the house down.

Pippin takes his grandmother's advice, then lives for awhile on a farm with the widow Catherine (Bradley Benjamin) and her young son Theo (Jake Berman). Feeling that he's too Extra-Ordinary to live the quiet life, he continues his quest.

Act Two is considerably slower than the first act, up to the grand finale, where Pippin is presented with an important choice, amidst great fanfare and expectation.

I loved hearing the familiar songs, and seeing them paired with some truly spectacular acrobatics. Although there's a new choreographer in Chet Walker, he left plenty of Bob Fosse's signature moves.The acrobatics are impressive, and help drive the narrative rather than distract from it.

From the very start, Pippin was a lot of fun, with a lot to see and some thought-provoking moments as well. Definitely a must-see for any Broadway lover.


*Pippin and Charlemagne were historical people, though there is little confirmed evidence available about Pippin's life. Some events parallel a few of the histories, but this is really fictionalized.


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