Friday, June 14, 2013


Sometimes more is less, as clearly shown by the revival of Pippin currently on Broadway. Or perhaps I should write "sometimes more is less for me," since Pippin's multitude of Tony Awards (revival, director, lead actress, featured actress) and SRO audiences prove that my opinion is not a majority one. But:
Andrea Martin
Photo: Joan Marcus
  • Pattina Miller as the Leading Player is all muscles and edges, often looking more like she's working out than she's dancing. 
  • Chet Walker's choreography, though based on Fosse's more sinuous work, is full of busy-ness and edges and angles. (I'm not sure why shows have choreography "in the style of Fosse"; is there some reason that they can't just use Fosse's choreography in the first place?)
  • Most importantly, while the circus acts are amazing, superb, and magical, they too often pull focus from the choreography and the rest of the show--or perhaps the choreography and the rest of the show pull focus from the circus acts--but either way the audience is faced with visual noise and a production that is less than the sum of its parts. As just one example, the brilliant Manson Trio, an oasis of quiet, is not allowed to finish without some of the circus performers back on stage and, yes, pulling focus. (This links to the Manson Trio from the televised Pippin with Ben Vereen--the trio starts around 3:57. Unfortunately, here too they are unwilling to leave the dance alone, throwing in other images, but, man, what choreography!)
There are some lovely moments amid all this stuff.

  •  Andrea Martin is funny, brilliant, remarkable, agile, brave, silly, and a total joy. Most importantly, she provides what the rest of the show is mostly lacking: warmth.
  • There are two particularly amazing moments where physical feats are carried out that I not only have never seen before, but that I also would swear, even now, are impossible.
  • Rachel Bay Jones, as Catherine, brings the evening's other moments of warmth and sweetness.
  • Charlotte d'Amboise is an entertaining Fastrada.
  • The costumes and scenery are great fun.
Still, for me, the negatives really hurt the show. Also, I didn't much like Matthew James Thomas as Pippin, which certainly doesn't help matters. On a whole, in contrast to my co-ShowShowdowner Liz Wollman, who would clearly give this production an A+++++, the best I can do is a B-.

(second-to-last-row mezz; $69 ticket)


    broadwayandme said...

    You may be in a minority but you're not alone: it's nice to find a kindred soul amidst all the hoopla surrounding this one.

    Wendy Caster said...


    Anonymous said...

    Agreed. We left at intermission.