Theatre Thursdays: Pippin Broadway Revival

Stephen Schwartz’s 1972 musical Pippin returns to Broadway for the first time since closing in 1977. This show is pretty popular but I have never seen it and know almost nothing about it. I know the famous song “Corner of the Sky”.

And I know that Bob Fosse choreographed the original production, but beyond that I have almost no experience with this musical. As such, I’m excited that there is a revival currently running because it gives me an opportunity to see and hear more about the show. I’m already inclined to like it because I’ve yet to hear a work of Stephen Schwartz (the man behind GodspellWicked, and the Disney films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas) that I haven’t liked, so I don’t feel like I’m in danger of disliking the score. As for this particular production, there are also some specific things which excite me.

First: Patina Miller as Leading Player. This role was originally played by Ben Vereen and is traditionally a male role, so it will be very unique to see a woman in that role (I mean, for people who know the show. Everything’s brand new to me anyway.) and how it will work out. Patina herself is extremely talented, so even without the fact that her casting is breaking the gender norm it would be exciting anyway. She has this spark that she brings when she performs. I don’t know how to describe it but there’s so much joy and vitality in her singing and acting.

Ben Vereen and Patina Miller. Photo credit: broadway.com

Ben Vereen and Patina Miller. Photo credit: broadway.com

Second: the circus inspiration. I believe the original setting of the show focused on a troupe of theatre performers so adjusting that to a circus act is an interesting choice and one which looks very promising to me. The spectacle of circus performing will add a really interesting layer to this very stylized show. Bob Fosse choreography (which is still inspiring the choreography in this new production) is very unique and in some ways whimsical and I think it will play very well in a circus show.

The good news is that the show is getting very good buzz. It’s still in previews so there’s no critical response yet, but word of mouth has been pretty positive about both cast and direction, so things are looking good for this revival!

Theatre Thursdays: Matilda the Musical

Matilda the Musical LogoBroadway’s latest London import is the musical version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and I have to say I am really excited for it. I’ve never read Matilda but I always loved the movie. Athough I know this is based on the novel, it doesn’t seem radically different from the film, which follows a young girl named Matilda who has emotionally abusive parents and attends a school with an emotionally and physically abusive headmistress known as The Trunchbull. Through this adversity Matilda develops telekinetic powers which she uses to fight back against her tormentors.

Broadway.com has begun a video series about the making of the show and in the first episode the librettist pretty much outlines what I find so appealing about the show:

This idea that children don’t necessarily know more than adults, but have stronger convictions to what they believe is right and wrong is so true and so important. It’s easy to see this story as a bunch of bratty kids throwing a tantrum, or as a cliched “Bless the poor children” tale of under-appreciated youth, but instead the creative team seems to be coming at this story from the point of view of the children themselves. Doing this helps the work to feel more honest because so often when kids are written by adults they are written the way adults view childhood and usually come out exceedingly cute, bratty, intelligent, or ignorant. It’s hard to find writers who really capture that childhood isn’t so innocent and sweet or cruel and spoiled as adults remember.

I’m currently obsessed with the song “Revolting Children” which really captures this theme well:

I find the song clever in its use of the word “revolting” which The Trunchbull always uses to describe the children at her school by taking it from the adjective meaning “disgusting” and using it instead as the verb as in “being in the state of revolt” while the kids decide to stand up to their headmistress. The kids aren’t having a fit or simply complaining; they’re empowering themselves and taking back their dignity from someone who mistreated them.

Never again will I be bullied!

Never again will I doubt it when

my mummy says I’m a miracle!

Never again!

I find these lyrics beautiful and powerful because no one should be bullied or doubt that they have intrinsic worth and dignity. If the rest of the show supports this theme as well as this one number does I have a feeling it will quickly become one of my favorites.

The Broadway production is currently in previews with an opening date set for April 11 and tickets are starting as low as $37! If you’re in the city I’d say it’s probably worth a try for such a low price because barring lotto/student rush, you’re not usually going to find tickets that cheap for any show, especially one with the kind of name recognition this one carries. If I get a chance to see it I’ll certainly post a review here with a more informed opinion but right now I’m loving what I’ve seen thus far.

Theatre Thursdays: Wicked News Round-Up

Despite being a huge Wicked fan (I mean, check the username) I don’t think I’ve posted about it at all here. However, having just seen the show again a couple weeks ago, I’ve been in a Wicked mood — so I’m gonna post some fun news that’s been going on for the show as it nears its tenth year on Broadway.

Willemijn Verkaik ElphabaWillemijn Verkaik will do a limited run as Elphaba on Broadway

Willemijn became a fast fan favorite when she opened the German production of Wicked and with her perfect witchy look and killer voice it’s not hard to understand why. On top of these great attributes Willemijn also brought her intense, passionate acting to the role. She went on to open the Dutch production of the show as well, getting to perform the show in her native language. Now this incredibly talented woman is going to get to make her Broadway debut and American audiences will get to experience firsthand what audiences in Stuttgart and Holland have already fallen in love with.

Enjoy Willemijn performing Elphaba’s signature “Defying Gravity” in all three languages in which she has performed/will perform the role:

More news under the cut!

Continue reading