Pippin — A review


Today’s post is going to be a review of last night’s viewing of Pippin at Starlight Theater in Kansas City, MO

Usually in a drama or musical you have a hero, a sympathetic hero. Pippin isn’t that. He’s more of a whiner and complainer. “I’m so special and no one realizes it … I can’t seem to find my destiny”. He sounds like a lot of special snowflakes floating around today that would leave the rest of us all better off it they’d just go off and melt — instead of tasking us all with ensuring the air stays cold enough for them to continue to exist throughout the hot summer.

The play also has little historical accuracy — not that I expected it. As Wikipedia notes, it is more a retelling of the Faust story by just choosing an obscure historical character and making up whatever you wanted for him.  It does so by the usual libel of accusing medieval Christians of all sort of barbarities — the same barbarities they were attempting to defend themselves from at the hands of the Moors and Turks.

That said, there is a lot of good music and theatrics, if you gloss over the inanities of the plot itself, and just focus on them as individual numbers. I especially like the “No Time at All” that included a singalong section.  The actress, Adrienne Barbeau, was very suited to her role.

The ending was just wrong. Anticlimactic. In a place where Pippin should have started out tentative and swelled to a resounding triumphal note, he just petered out. A simple change here could have rescued most of the inanity and political nonsense of the rest of the show, but it didn’t.

In the program, Rich Baker, President and CEO of Starlight, called Pippin “one of the most immersive theatrical experiences ever brought to Starlight’s stage.” I have to strenuously disagree. Taking a historical character and endowing him with silly modern sensibilities is the way to create a jarring, not immersive experience — at least for anyone who really knows history.

The next show by Starlight is going to be the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella next week. I received an e-mail lauding that show yesterday. Reading the below blurb, and having seen the Pippin, I am rather concerned with what show they are really putting on:

The new tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella delights audiences with its surprisingly contemporary take on the beloved tale of a chambermaid transformed into a princess. The lush, Tony Award®-winning musical combines the story’s classic elements – the pumpkin, glass slipper and masked ball – with some surprising new twists! More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul.

Uh Oh.

Cinderella had enough savvy and soul before. How brazen are they going to make here? Have they dropped “in my own little corner”? and if not, how will it sell with a too savvy Cinderella?

We will see how much of an atrocity they have or haven’t done to Cinderella next week.


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