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'Pippin' makes long-awaited return to Broadway

February 05, 2013|By Deborah Vankin
  • Matthew James Thomas portrays the lead role and Rachel Bay Jones is Catherine in a production of "Pippin" at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.
Matthew James Thomas portrays the lead role and Rachel Bay Jones is Catherine… (Michael J. Lutch / Associated…)

If you’re a community theater regular, or even attended high school or college musicals, you’re likely familiar with the lively, foot-tappin’ tunes of “Pippin.” It’s the story of a young prince, son of the French King Charlemagne (King Charles), and his search for his place in the world. 

The original Broadway version of "Pippin," directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, debuted in 1972; it ran for five years and won five Tonys. Now "Pippin" will return to the Great White Way this March for the first time in more than 30 years.

The show is a continuation of sorts of the just-ended “Pippin” revival at the American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts. On Monday, producers announced that the core stars from that show will also star in the new Broadway version. That includes Matthew James Thomas ("Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark") as Pippin and Patina Miller (nominated for a Tony for “Sister Act”) as the Leading Player, the narrator-like head of a performance troupe who often breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience.  

The production also stars Charlotte d'Amboise as Fastrada, Rachel Bay Jones as Catherine, Terrence Mann as King Charles and Andrea Martin as Berthe.  

Diane Paulus -- whose revivals of "Hair" and "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" won Tony Awards for best musical revival -- will direct. Previews begin March 23 at the Music Box Theater, with the show opening in late April.

The original Broadway version of “Pippin” starred John Rubinstein as Pippin and Ben Vereen, who won a Tony for his role as the Leading Player. The pop-rock score was written by Stephen Schwartz ("Wicked," "Godspell"). Roger O. Hirson wrote the book.

Breakout songs include "Magic to Do," ''Corner of the Sky," "Kind of Woman" and ''No Time at All."    

The legend of Fosse lives on in the new Broadway revival: Choreographer Chet Walker created many of the numbers in his style. Ex-Cirque du Soleil performer Gypsy Snider, founder of Montreal’s 7 Fingers, choreographed the circus feats in the show.

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Twitter.com/@debvankin

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