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An all new production of PIPPIN has leaped through hoops onto stage at Segerstrom Center For The Arts in Costa Mesa! From the creator of WICKED and the choreographer of CHICAGO: PIPPIN THE MUSICAL is an extraordinary reimagined tale of Broadways cherished show. Winner of FOUR 2013 Tony awards, PIPPIN tells the story of a young prince on a coming of age journey for meaning in his life through stunning magical acts and death-defying acrobatics!
Words cannot easily describe the feeling one gets from watching this incredible show. This is not the PIPPIN you may already know. New in the show is a story based more within the thrilling circus acts and events within the big tent. Some may read the word “circus” and quickly think cheesy or childish, but PIPPIN is a far cry from anything less than astonishing.
Your experience in the audience is more than a Broadway caliber musical, but a Cirque du Soleil-esque mash between circus, music and dance. The American Repertory Theater production of PIPPIN is fresh off a tremendous run at Pantages, and if you have already seen it, I can only imagine you are planning on seeing it again.
What? Am I sounding too “pro-Pippin”. Well, if so, I totally am! This has brought so much life back into theatre for me. It’s an incredible endless act of high energy, mostly light-hearted, non-stuffy class-act entertainment.
The show features SASHA ALLEN, a young star of last year’s season of The Voice, which plays into her charismatic circus barker role as the Leading Player. While I am shedding high praise for this show, this may also be the only part I felt lacking. It was lack-lusting of pep and seduction one may expect from role of this stature. I am unfamiliar with her and after looking at several photos before my review, it almost doesn’t look like the same person. Therefore, full disclosure here, I may have seen an understudy but I did not here the announcement if there was one.
This character however allows for one sexual, erotic even, telling of the story. The choreography from CHET WALKER is energetic and flashy yet remaining creative and professional while still being downright sexy at times. With revealing risqué costumes and a few coarse words PIPPIN is recommended for children ages 13+. The few adult innuendos were quite hilarious too and well-played.
KYLE DEAN MASSEY plays Pippin who many may recognize from WICKED and XANADU or even The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie. He has joined the cast direct from Broadway’s production of PIPPIN. He in no doubt embodies the character perfectly as he searches for his extraordinary life in the show. Comedically perfect, great voice, and believable in his role as the black-sheep of his royal family.
Pippin seeks outs the family business after life at war where he falls into power, sex and politics. He is unsure the life he wants to live and after a first act of trying his expected destiny, the second act follows a different choice; the choice that embodies love and an “ordinary life”. His quest for more creates a challenge for him though. A calm-life may be too difficult for him to settle for.
Along Pippin’s journey he is lead to the life of insane circus acts and beautiful, flexible… women. In fact, there is absolutely no doubt your attention will be focused on his Granny’s unbelievable performance, who is actually Lucille Ball’s daughter LUCIE ARNAZ, that then introduces the troupe of acrobats. This production features Montreal’s Les 7 Doigts de la Main who appeared in the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Not only do we get to see jaw-dropping stunts, but also impressive magical illusions. I am not going to say you won’t know how everything is done, but I am willing to bet that some of them may have you shocked and then shortly cheering thereafter. Nothing is too much or an “eye-rolling” style of magic, but instead a perfect balance that just fits.
Now hold on, you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything about the music yet. That’s because the music is integrated so perfectly, not forced, that the whole show just combines it all to create a well-balanced superb show. This is not something I have seen too much of lately.
I’m not going to dive too deep into the music except to mention the favorites are there with definitely powerful ballads, soft quiet songs, and yet surprisingly not heavy on the amount of them. There is music almost throughout, but instead it is used as background to the many circus acts onstage. Shockingly enough, the show is actually 2 hours and 40 minutes! I actually had no idea it was a longer show before I went, nor did I while I was in the middle of it. In fact, I didn’t know until I got in my car and realized the time! I truly left wanting more of everything.
I guess it’s clear that I say “SEE IT!” I loved the ensemble of characters, and I do mean characters. Every acrobatic has their oddity, in the best way possible, and yet they all sing and act well too. I imagine to find such well-rounded entertainers and actors was not an easy feat.
PIPPIN is a story I relate to all too well, and I’m sure much of its audience does as well. I guess that is what has lead to its great success. It’s a moral for life that I need to remind myself daily. I’ve always looked for more, something bigger and more meaningful, something extraordinary… but when will I ever find enough. Have I tried for too long? Do I already have enough right in front of me? Did Pippin?
PIPPIN THE MUSICAL is now playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts – Segerstrom Hall
It is recommended for ages 13+.
November 11th – 23rd, 2014
Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets start at $25
For more information visit scfta.org
Photos credit: Terry Shapiro