There was an audible hum of excitement at the Melbourne Recital Centre last night, as the who’s who of Melbourne musical theatre gathered for the second offering in the Steven Schwartz Celebration Triptych, Pippin.
A modern fairy-tale/coming-of-age story about the fictional Prince Pippin (Luigi Lucente) and his quest for an extraordinary life is a whirlwind of colour, music and unforgettable characters.
Guided by the show stealing Leading Player (Rohan Browne), Pippin is taken on a journey to find his life’s fulfilment. With assistance from a magical troupe of outrageous characters, Pippin is lead from the “Glory” of battle, to a series of sexual encounters, revolution and high treason, art and religion and finally into the arms of the widowed Catherine (Elise Brennan).
Originally performed on Broadway in 1972 and directed by the legend of theatre, Bob Fosse, Pippin is a perfectly preserved time capsule of Fosse’s iconic style.
Within the incredibly limited rehearsal period, Magnormos has captured this spirit in a charming production that alternates between fairy-tale and moral lesson. Characters often address the audience and each other shattering the illusion of the “fourth wall.”
Somewhat disconcertingly, Pippin is at times difficult to follow as the farce of the carnival removes all clarity of space and time. Yet the classic musical theatre score (a prelude to Schwartz’s later works i.e. Wicked) and Fosse-esque technique is an absolute joy.
The trio dance during the battle song “Glory” was one of the highlights of the performance as Browne led the two lead female dancers through the glorious stylised choreography.
Pippin is a joyful tale with an upbeat soundtrack and epic dance numbers. While the sound levels were slightly inconsistent and the Melbourne Recital Centre wasn’t the ideal venue to hold the performance, as some of the depth and meaning of the songs were lost in the vastness of the space.
A wonderful indication of the abundance of local talent, Magnormos has pulled together an incredible revival worthy of the world stage.
Magnormos and Melbourne Recital Centre present
A Stephen Schwartz Celebration
Venue: Melbourne Recital Centre, Sturt St South Melbourne.
Date: 16 September, 2013
Tickets: $75 – $50