It is amazing to realize that this larger-than-life show could possibly be contained on our home turf here at The Playhouse. Pippin questions its own existence in a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek way — there are balancing acts, air suspension and gravity-defying flips that left us astonished. The fact that the show's lead Housso Semon as the "Ring Leader" effortlessly dances on high-heeled shoes for lengthy numbers left us feeling a bit lazy in our seats.
Catchy, interactive songs moved the quirky plot along with honesty and good humor, which also employed subtle (and not-so-subtle) sight gags and double-entendre (that is probably not suited for all ages, although perhaps with the show's sleight-of-hand, such humor wouldn't register with more innocent eyes and ears in the audience).
Director Diane Paulis has garnered several awards for her direction on this dazzling touring production of Pippin, and it's easy to see why — but perhaps the proverbial spotlight should be on this show's stunning lighting design. Kenneth Posner has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design 10 times for various productions including Wicked and Hairspray. His work for Pippin has accentuated the captivating Fosse-esque choreography by Chet Walker, which is easily the number one reason to see Pippin — the energetic and physical feats of acrobatic and dance excellence!
Favorite players that had us talking on the ride home afterward:
- Brendon Schaefer (King Charlemagne) — for his candor, mannerisms and frivolous-yet-mature attitude on ruling a kingdom that could only come from a lifetime of experience.
- Erica Lee Cianciulli (Fastrada) — for her devious allure and personality in stage movement where she truly made it an extension of her character.
- Rachael Britton Hart (Berthe) — for her pointed, wicked wit and charm; a seasoned flower that gives the newer kids on the block a run for their money.
- General ensemble cast — for their remarkable adherence to complex choreography and overall magic and verve.
Flawless accompaniment provided by the company's orchestra worked seamlessly to tell the story within a story of an idealistic boy prince who comes of age while having his life expectations jettisoned for something not only more realistic, but more meaningful than he ever imagined. It is a storyline with which all ages can connect — frustrations and disappointments that come with high ideals in life, landing on the uplifting message to keep imagination alive while accepting and stoking the sparks of love in the day-to-day of this modern life. "True greatness" is rarely in the fiery blaze, more often it is in the quiet whispers of the seemingly mundane, where even the average life is rather extraordinary if only we stop to take stock of it.
Pippin runs through March 12 at The Playhouse on Rodney Square Tickets range from $40-85 and discounts are available for seniors, groups of 10 or more and children ages 12 and under.
This post originally appeared on Delaware Arts INfo Blog and has been posted with permission.