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PIPPIN presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Oct. 18. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
Full disclosure. I am a huge fan of the musical PIPPIN. It holds a special place in my heart and I’ve been hoping to see the circus-themed, Tony Award-winning revival for quite some time. The touring production, currently at the Aronoff Center, did not disappoint.
The cornerstones of the show: the score, the voices, the harmonies, the dancing, the Fosse, the humor, the costumes and the magic are all there. The circus theme works well for the most part, and the acrobatic ability of the cast adds a unique visually element (and a bit of danger) to the show.
The cast as a whole is excellent. Both Gabrielle McClinton and Brian Flores are strong performers as the Leading Player and Pippin. Sabrina Harper is an amazing triple-threat as the scheming Fastrada. Bradley Benjamin’s Catherine has a great, quirky charm.
Exciting for me, was being able to see two showbiz legends perform in the cast. Incredibly fun in the role of King Charles is John Rubinstein. Now the father of the titular character, Rubinstein originated the role of Pippin, opposite Ben Vereen, on Broadway. Serving as Berthe, Pippin’s irreverent, high-flying grandmother is Priscilla Lopez. In a little show called, A CHORUS LINE, she originated the role of Diana Morales who felt “Nothing” in acting class.
Also fun was having CCM alums returning to Cincinnati with the tour. Erik Altemus (’09) returns as self-loving Lewis, the role he originated in the Broadway revival. Laura Hall is a Player in the ensemble and Kate Wesler (’14) serves as a swing.
Sound-wise, I thought there was a good balance between the vocals and the orchestra. Personally I wouldn’t have minded being rocked-out a bit for a few of the numbers or to have the vocals vibrate the theater at the end of “Morning Glow.”
Overall an exciting, entertaining and visually-stunning production and a must-see for any PIPPIN fan.
My rating: 4.75 out of 5.
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