Original Cast Recording
Roger O. Hirson |
Bob Fosse (additional material)
|Basis||Fictitious life of Pippin the Hunchback, son of Charlemagne|
1973 West End
1981 Canadian television
2000 Paper Mill Playhouse
2009 Los Angeles
2013 Broadway revival
2014 First US National Tour
2017 Second US National Tour
2018 Off-West End
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical|
Pippin is a 1972 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. Bob Fosse, who directed the original Broadway production, also contributed to the libretto. The musical uses the premise of a mysterious performance troupe, led by a Leading Player, to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince on his search for meaning and significance.
The protagonist Pippin and his father Charlemagne are characters derived from two real-life individuals of the early Middle Ages, though the plot is fictional and presents no historical accuracy regarding either. The show was partially financed by Motown Records. As of February 2018, the original run of Pippin is the 34th longest-running Broadway show.
Ben Vereen and Patina Miller won Tony Awards for their portrayals of the Leading Player in the original Broadway production and the 2013 revival, respectively, making them the first two actors of different sexes to win a Tony for the same role.
Pippin was originally conceived as a student musical titled Pippin, Pippin and performed by Carnegie Mellon University's Scotch'n'Soda theatre troupe. Stephen Schwartz collaborated with Ron Strauss, and, when Schwartz decided to develop the show further, Strauss left the project. Schwartz has said that not a single line nor note from Carnegie Mellon's Pippin, Pippin made it into the final version.
The musical begins with the Leading Player of a troupe and the accompanying actors in various costume pieces of several different time periods, establishing the play's intentionally anachronistic, defamiliarized, unconventional feel. The Leading Player and troupe, throughout the performance, metafictionally channel the Brechtian distancing effect and immediately break the fourth wall, directly speaking to the audience and provocatively inviting their attention ("Magic to Do"). They begin a story about a boy prince searching for existential fulfillment. They reveal that the boy who is to play the prince, named Pippin, is a new actor. Pippin talks to scholars of his dreams to find where he belongs ("Corner of the Sky"), and they happily applaud Pippin on his ambitious quest for an extraordinary life. Pippin then returns home to the castle and estate of his father, King Charles (known by the epithet "Charlemagne"). Charles and Pippin don't get a chance to communicate often, as they are interrupted by nobles, soldiers, and courtiers vying for Charles' attention ("Welcome Home"), and Charles is clearly uncomfortable speaking with his educated son or expressing any loving emotions. Pippin also meets up with his stepmother Fastrada, and her dim-witted son Lewis. Charles and Lewis are planning on going into battle against the Visigoths soon, and Pippin begs Charles to take him along so as to prove himself. Charles reluctantly agrees and proceeds to explain a battle plan to his men ("War is a Science").
Once in battle, the Leading Player re-enters to lead the troupe in a mock battle using top hats, canes, and fancy jazz to glorify warfare and violence ("Glory"), with the Leading Player and two lead dancers in the middle (performing Bob Fosse's famous "Manson Trio"). This charade of war does not appeal to Pippin, and he flees into the countryside. The Leading Player tells the audience of Pippin's travels through the country, until he stops at his exiled grandmother's estate ("Simple Joys"). There, Berthe (his paternal grandmother, exiled by Fastrada) tells Pippin not to be so serious and to live a little ("No Time At All"). Pippin takes this advice and decides to search for something a bit more lighthearted ("With You"). While he initially enjoys many meaningless sexual encounters, he soon discovers that relationships without love leave you "empty and unfulfilled."
The Leading Player then tells Pippin that perhaps he should fight tyranny, and uses Charles as a perfect example of an uneducated tyrant to fight. Pippin plans a revolution, and Fastrada is delighted to hear that perhaps Charles and Pippin will both perish so that her beloved Lewis can become king. Fastrada arranges the murder of Charles, and Pippin falls victim to her plot ("Spread a Little Sunshine"). While Charles is praying at Arles, Pippin murders him, and becomes the new king ("Morning Glow"). The Leading Player mentions to the audience that they will break for now, but to expect a thoroughly thrilling finale.[Note 1]
Act 2 begins with Pippin trying his best to grant the wishes of as many people as possible. But he realizes that it is impossible to keep everyone happy. Pippin realizes that neither he nor his father could change society and seemed forced to act as tyrants. He begs the Leading Player to bring his slain father back to life, and the Leading Player does so as Charlemagne nonchalantly comes back to life and mildly scolds Pippin. He feels directionless until the Leading Player inspires him ("On the Right Track"). After experimenting with art and religion, he falls into monumental despair and collapses on the floor.
Widowed farm-owner Catherine finds him on the street, and is attracted by the arch of his foot ("And There He Was") and when Pippin comes to, she introduces herself to Pippin ("Kind of Woman"). From the start, it is clear that the Leading Player is concerned with Catherine's acting ability and actual attraction to Pippin -- after all, she is but a player playing a part in the Leading Player's yet-to-be-unfolded plan. At first, Pippin thinks himself above such boring manorial duties as sweeping, repairs, and milking cows ("Extraordinary"), but eventually he comforts Catherine's small boy, Theo, on the sickness and eventual death of his pet ("Prayer for a Duck") and warms up to the lovely Catherine ("Love Song"). However, as time goes by, Pippin feels that he must leave the estate to continue searching for his purpose. Catherine is heartbroken, and reflects on him (much to the Leading Player's anger and surprise) ("I Guess I'll Miss the Man").
All alone on a stage, Pippin is surrounded by the Leading Player and the various troupe members. They all suggest that Pippin complete the most perfect act ever: the Finale. They tell Pippin to jump into a box of fire, light himself up, and "become one with the flame." Pippin is reluctant at first, but slowly loses resistance ("Finale"). He is stopped by his natural misgivings and also by one actress from the troupe--the woman playing Catherine. Catherine and her son Theo stand by Pippin and defy the script, the Leading Player, and the Troupe. Pippin comes to the realization that the widow's home was the only place where he was truly happy ("Magic Shows and Miracles"). Having experimented with every possible path to fulfillment, he feels humbled, and realizes that maybe the most fulfilling road of all is a modest, ordinary life. He comes to the conclusion that, while "settling down" may at times be mundane and boring, "if [he's] never tied to anything, [he'll] never be free." The Leading Player becomes furious and calls off the show, telling the rest of the troupe and even the orchestra to pack up and leave Pippin, Catherine, and her son alone on an empty, dark and silent stage, yelling at Pippin, "You try singing without music, sweetheart!" Pippin realizes that he has given up his extraordinary purpose for the simplest and most ordinary life of all, and he is finally a happy man. When Catherine asks him how he feels, he says he feels "trapped, but happy."
Some newer productions of Pippin, including the 2013 Broadway revival, have featured an extension to the original ending. The "Theo ending" was originally conceived in 1998 by Mitch Sebastian. After the troupe shuns Pippin for not performing the grand finale, and he avers his contentment with a simple life with Catherine, Theo remains alone onstage, and sings a verse of "Corner of the Sky," after which the Leading Player and the troupe return, backed by the "Magic to Do" melody, implying that the existential crisis at the heart of the play is part of a cycle and will now continue, but with Theo as the troupe's replacement for Pippin. Current productions vary between the two possible endings, though Schwartz himself has expressed his preference for the newer ending.
Though Pippin is written to be performed in one act and its single-arc structure does not easily accommodate an intermission, many performances are broken into two acts. In the two-act version currently licensed by Musical Theatre International, the intermission comes after "Morning Glow," with an Act I finale - an abridged version of "Magic to Do" - inserted after Charles' murder. As with the new ending, the intermission can be added at the director's discretion without additional permission required. The 2013 Broadway revival is performed with an intermission.
+ Introduced by John Rubinstein in the title role on Broadway and performed by Paul Jones in the London production. The song was covered by The Jackson 5 in 1972, and is included as a bonus track on the 2000 CD release of the Original Broadway Cast Recording. A duet by Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, whose vocals were recorded more than 30 years apart, is included on Clark's 2007 CD Duets.
? The song was covered by The Supremes in 1972, and is included as a bonus track on the 2000 CD release of the Original Broadway Cast Recording.
In the original 1972 production, Fosse planned to use Stephen Schwartz's song "Marking Time," but before the show opened on Broadway the song was replaced with "Extraordinary."
The show premiered at the Imperial Theater on October 23, 1972, and ran for 1,944 performances before closing on June 12, 1977. It was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse.
Clive Barnes commented for The New York Times, "It is a commonplace set to rock music, and I must say I found most of the music somewhat characterless....It is nevertheless consistently tuneful and contains a few rock ballads that could prove memorable." Advertising for the Broadway production broke new ground with the first TV commercial that actually showed scenes from a Broadway show. The 60-second commercial, showed Ben Vereen and two chorus dancers, Candy Brown and Pamela Sousa, in the instrumental dance sequence from "Glory." The commercial ended with the tagline, "You can see the other 119 minutes of Pippin live at the Imperial Theatre, without commercial interruption."
Musical theatre scholar Scott Miller said in his 1996 book, From Assassins to West Side Story, "Pippin is a largely under-appreciated musical with a great deal more substance to it than many people realize....Because of its 1970s pop style score and a somewhat emasculated licensed version for amateur productions, which is very different from the original Broadway production, the show now has a reputation for being merely cute and harmlessly naughty; but if done the way director Bob Fosse envisioned it, the show is surreal and disturbing." Fosse introduced "quasi-Brechtian elements"  to empower audiences. Brecht's 'distancing effect' breaks the illusion of reality to encourage analysis of the play's meaning. The ambiguity of Pippin's "trapped, but happy" line forces spectators to confront the frustrations of ordinary life as well as the fruitlessness of Pippin's attempt at revolution. Distancing empowers the spectator to think, and moreover to decide for themselves.
Notable Broadway replacements include: Samuel E. Wright, Northern J. Calloway, Ben Harney, and Larry Riley as Leading Player; Michael Rupert and Dean Pitchford as Pippin; Betty Buckley as Catherine; Dorothy Stickney as Berthe; and Priscilla Lopez as Fastrada.
The American Repertory Theater's production of Pippin transferred to Broadway beginning with previews on March 23, 2013 at the Music Box Theatre, followed by an opening on April 25. The same cast that performed at the A.R.T. transferred to the Broadway production: Matthew James Thomas as the title prince, Patina Miller as Leading Player, Andrea Martin as Berthe, Rachel Bay Jones as Catherine, Erik Altemus as Lewis, Terrence Mann as King Charles, Charlotte d'Amboise as Fastrada and Andrew Cekala as Theo. Diane Paulus again directed, with circus choreography and acrobatics by Chet Walker and Gypsy Snider. Miller was nervous to take on the role of the Leading Player, re-creating a character originated by the highly acclaimed Vereen. However, the challenge presented by such a role, and the representational power of the gender-blind casting, outweighed the apprehension. "I know there are people who wonder why the Leading Player has to be a woman this time, but one of the great things about revivals is to be able to do things in a new and exciting way," Miller said. This revival won four categories at the 67th Tony Awards out of 10 nominations, including the best revival, best leading actress for Miller, best featured actress for Martin, and best director for Paulus. On April 1, 2014, the roles of Pippin and Leading Player were taken over by Kyle Dean Massey and Ciara Renée, respectively. The role of Berthe was taken over by Tovah Feldshuh, Annie Potts, and then Priscilla Lopez. On June 19, 2014 John Rubinstein, the original Pippin in 1972, replaced Terrence Mann in the role of Charles. From September 2, 2014 through September 21, 2014, the role of Berthe was played again by Andrea Martin, who won the Tony for her portrayal of Berthe in 2013. In September 2014, Carly Hughes replaced Ciara Renee as the Leading Player. In November, Josh Kaufman, winner of the sixth season of U.S. television series The Voice, took over the role of Pippin from Kyle Dean Massey.
The Broadway revival closed on January 4, 2015.
Where productions of musicals are often constrained to replicate the original, recently Pippin empowers directors by giving them content-control. In particular, they can affect the show's tone with Pippin's final line: including "but happy" maintains optimism, while omitting it creates a jaded, tragic effect.
The original Australian production (a replica of the Broadway production) opened in February 1974 at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne. It starred John Farnham as Pippin, with Ronne Arnold as the Leading Player, Colleen Hewett as Catherine, Nancye Hayes as Fastrada, David Ravenswood as Charles and Jenny Howard as Berthe. The production transferred to Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney in August 1974. A cast album was released.
Starring Michael Rupert as Pippin, Larry Riley (actor) as Leading Player, Eric Berry as Charles, Thelma Carpenter as Berthe
In June 2000, the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey staged a revival with director Robert Johanson, choreographer, set design Michael Anania, costume design by Gene Meyer and Gregg Barnes, lighting design Kirk Bookman, and orchestrations by David Siegel. The cast starred Jim Newman (Lead Player), Ed Dixon (Charlemagne), Jack Noseworthy (Pippin), Natascia Diaz (Catherine), Sara Gettelfinger (Fastrada), Davis Kirby (Lewis), and Charlotte Rae (Berthe).
In 2004, the first major New York revisitation of the show was featured as the second annual World AIDS Day Concert presented by Jamie McGonnigal. It featured Michael Arden as Pippin, Laura Benanti as Catherine, Julia Murney as Fastrada, Terrence Mann as Charlemagne, Charles Busch as Berthe, and the role of the Leading Player was split up among five actors including Rosie O'Donnell, Darius de Haas, Billy Porter, Kate Shindle and a surprise guest appearance by Ben Vereen, making his first New York stage appearance in over a decade.
In 2005, the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York staged a production starring BD Wong (Leading Player), Stephanie Pope (Fastrada), Anastasia Barzee (Catherine) and James Stanek (Pippin). The production ran from August 9, 2005 through September 4, 2005.
The show was produced in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum, from January 15, 2009, through March 15, 2009, in a radically different form. The play's setting was changed to reflect a modern tone and was subtly modified to include deaf actors using American Sign Language. The production was choreographed and directed by Jeff Calhoun for actors from both the Deaf West Theatre Company and the Center Theatre Group. The title character was played by Tyrone Giordano, who was voiced by actor Michael Arden.The New York Times noted that the duality was required by the situation, but effectively showcased the character's "lack of a fixed self" in an exciting new fashion.
The Menier Chocolate Factory opened a revival of Pippin on November 22, 2011
The cast included:
The creative team was led by director/choreographer Mitch Sebastian.
The Kansas City Repertory Theatre produced and performed a version of Pippin that opened on September 14, 2012, and closed on October 7, 2012. The score was adapted to reflect a punk-rock style by Curtis Moore and featured Mary Testa.
The cast included (in alphabetical order):
The creative team was headed by Director Eric Rosen, Production Stage Manager Samantha Greene, Music Director/Orchestrator/Arranger Curtis Moore, Choreography Chase Brock, Scenic Design Jack Magaw, Costumes Alison Heryer, Lighting Design Jason Lyons, and Sound Design Zachary Williamson.
A new production was developed for the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The production was directed by Diane Paulus, with choreography by Chet Walker, scenic design by Scott Pask, costume design by Dominique Lemieux, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Clive Goodwin, orchestrations by Larry Hochman, music supervision by Nadia DiGiallonardo, and music direction by Charlie Alterman. Notable in this new production are its integration of illusions by Paul Kieve and circus acts created by Gypsy Snider and performed by the Montreal-based troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main. Composer Stephen Schwartz was present to oversee the sitzprobe. The production omits the first act number "Welcome Home." The A.R.T. production opened on December 5, 2012 and ran through January 20, 2013. This production transferred to Broadway with an opening on April 25, 2013.
The cast featured:
The players are Gregory Arsenal, Lolita Costet, Colin Cunliffe, Andrew Fitch, Orion Griffiths, Viktoria Grimmy, Olga Karmansky, Bethany Moore, Stephanie Pope, Philip Rosenberg, Yannick Thomas, Molly Tynes, and Anthony Wayne.
The cast featured:
Pippin commenced a US national tour in September 2014, at the Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado with Sasha Allen as Leading Player, Kyle Selig as Pippin, John Rubinstein as Charles, Sabrina Harper as Fastrada, Kristine Reese as Catherine, and Lucie Arnaz as Berthe. Andrea Martin reprised her role as Berthe for the last two weeks of the San Francisco engagement and the entire Los Angeles engagement of the tour. In Dallas in summer of 2015 the role of the grandmother, Berthe, was played by Adrienne Barbeau and Pippin by Sam Lips. Gabrielle McClinton (who performed the role on Broadway as Tony Award Winner Patina Miller's  understudy) replaced Sasha Allen as Leading Player on July 29, 2015 in Chicago, and Brian Flores replaced Sam Lips as Pippin.
In August 2017, a scaled down production opened at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. It featured a ten-person cast and a scaled down set to focus more on the story. This production transferred in late February 2018 to the Southwark Playhouse in London for a limited run. The production starred Jonathan Carlton as Pippin and Genevieve Nicole as Leading Player.
|1973||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Roger O. Hirson||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Ben Vereen||Won|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Leland Palmer||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Irene Ryan||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Stephen Schwartz||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Bob Fosse||Won|
|Best Scenic Design||Tony Walton||Won|
|Best Costume Design||Patricia Zipprodt||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design||Jules Fisher||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Director||Bob Fosse||Won|
|Outstanding Set Design||Tony Walton||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Patricia Zipprodt||Won|
|2013||Tony Award||Best Revival of a Musical||Won|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Patina Miller||Won|
|Best Featured Actor in a Musical||Terrence Mann||Nominated|
|Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Andrea Martin||Won|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Diane Paulus||Won|
|Best Choreography||Chet Walker||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design of a Musical||Scott Pask||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design of a Musical||Dominique Lemieux||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design of a Musical||Kenneth Posner||Nominated|
|Best Sound Design of a Musical||Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm||Nominated|
|Drama League Awards||Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Won|
|Distinguished Performance Award||Andrea Martin||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Diane Paulus||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Andrea Martin||Won|
|Outstanding Choreography||Chet Walker and Gypsy Snider||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Dominique Lemieux||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Kenneth Posner||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Matthew James Thomas||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Patina Miller||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Terrence Mann||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Andrea Martin||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Diane Paulus||Won|
|Outstanding Choreographer||Chet Walker||Won|
|Outstanding Set Design||Scott Pask||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Dominique Lemieux||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Kenneth Posner||Won|
|Fred & Adele Astaire Awards||Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show||Charlotte d'Amboise||Won|
|Outstanding Choreographer of a Broadway Show||Chet Walker||Won|
In 1981, a stage production of Pippin was videotaped for Canadian television. The stage production was directed by Kathryn Doby, Bob Fosse's dance captain for the original Broadway production, and David Sheehan directed the video adaptation, with Roger O. Hirson in charge of the music. Ben Vereen returned for the role of Leading Player, while William Katt played the role of Pippin. However, this version was a truncated adaptation and several sections of the play were cut. In the Broadway version Pippin describes his emotions as "trapped, but happy," but in the video he says only "trapped." Originally, Catherine sings "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" after Pippin departs, but this song does not appear in the video.
It was announced in April 2013 that The Weinstein Company has set director/screenwriter James Ponsoldt to pen and adapt the film. In December 2014, Craig Zadan announced that his next project with coproducer Neil Meron would be "Pippin", to be produced for The Weinstein Company. In April 2018, as The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy, the rights have quietly reverted to Schwartz and the project will soon be shopped to other studios.
Several cover versions of Pippins songs have been recorded. Shortly after the show's debut, The Supremes covered "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" (with Jean Terrell singing the lead) and Michael Jackson covered "Morning Glow."