|The cast of "Pippin" Image Brian Geach
Book by Roger O. Hirson – Music and Lyrics by
Presented by John Frost – Suzanne Jones – Barry and
Fran Weissler – Howard and Janet Kagan.
Directed by Diane Paulus – Choreographed by Chet
Musical Direction by Daniel Edmonds – Scenic design
by Scott Pask
Costume design by Dominique Lemieux.
Sydney Lyric Theatre. Opening Night, 3rd December 2020
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Leading Player, Gabrielle McClinton commanded the stage effortlessly, singing,
dancing and performing acrobatics with a brilliance that ensured that she was never
likely to be lost in the crowd.
Ainslie Melham is perfectly cast as Pippin, immediately winning over the
audience with his superb rendition of “My Corner of the Sky”, dancing stylishly
and impressing with his acrobatic prowess.
unrecognisable, Simon Burke delighted with his Trumpian take as Pippin’s
father, Charlemagne, tossing off the tongue-twisting “War is a Science” with
panache. Euan Doidge practically chews up
the scenery in a funny, scene-stealing performance as Lewis, Pippin’s oily
Although Leslie Bell, playing Pippin’s sexy, ambitious
stepmother, Frastrada, almost stopped
the show with her sizzling dancing in “Spread a Little Sunshine”, it was
Kerri-Anne Kennerley who took out that honour, putting paid to any criticism of
her casting as Pippins grandmother, Berthe, by drawing cheers from the
first-night audience with her jaw-dropping turn in “No Time at All”.
Walker with his imaginative reworking of the iconic Fosse choreography,
arguably one reason for the continued success of this show, pays respectful homage
to the original, even retaining Fosse’s famous “Manson Trio”, takes full
advantage of the opportunities offered by the circus setting to add additional
pizazz which is brilliantly danced by the ensemble.
course, Stephen Schwartz glorious score is no doubt another reason, and in this
production it is superbly rendered by a tight band under the musical
directorship of Daniel Edmonds.
is the problematic second act that has always been this show’s Achilles’ heel,
when Pippin, having been shocked by the horrors of war, rejected the
temptations of the flesh, and murdered his father, realises that he is unable
to find solace in the simple life offered by Catherine, a single mother,
captivatingly portrayed and sweetly sung by Lucy Maunder, and her son, Theo,
played on opening night by Ryan Yeates..
Dianne Paulus brilliantly overcomes this problem by stripping away all the
magic towards the end of the show, with a stunning theatrical coup de grace
which holds the audience transfixed to the very end.