The night began with immense Sydney City traffic, a forfeited dinner before our musical (as the time was ticking down) and more rain and gloom than you could poke a stick at. We finally made it to our destination and we couldn't of been happier to get out of the car and into what turned out to be a most quaint and inviting venue, that is the Sidetrack Theatre.
With an eclectic collection of comfy chairs in the foyer, a small bar to get your drinks and snacks and when the weather is more accommodating, a lovely courtyard area with seating to relax in before your show. Through the courtyard is the theatre; it feels just the right size for a welcoming and intimate experience.
The lights fall, the maestro brings up the music and the show begins. Pippin is the story of a young man, son of King Charlemagne, who feels lost and unfulfilled. He feels he is destined for extraordinary things; all he has to do is find out how to achieve this greatness. With a kingdom filled with war, debauchery and treachery at his feet, he wants to find more. So the journey of discovery commences, searching for just what his exceptional path in life is, all the while deciphering what is real and what is all an illusion.
The show takes off with an intriguing and upbeat musical number performed by the Leading Player (Benjamin Hoetjes) and ensemble cast. With the next few numbers we get to know Pippin (Mitchell Lagos), King Charlemagne (David Attrill), Charlemagne's Wife Fastrada (Erin Bruce) and Pippins step brother Louis (Phil McIntosh). As with all classic step mother/ step son relationships, there is the required disingenuous motherly love followed by the conniving and betrayal. Pippin is then paid a visit by his eccentric grandmother Berthe (Gaynor Tension). Berthe brings such life and humour to the play with some dazzling drag.
Berthe (Gaynor Tension) with ensemble cast Sam Larielle, Zach Smith and Phil McIntosh
As Pippin explores himself and his path, he happens to take part in quite a bit of "frolicking" which is expressed in a very tasteful and sensuous extended dance sequence. Pippin still feels unfulfilled and makes a few decisions. He ends up being happened upon by Catherine (Aimee Timmins) and her son Theo (Zach Smith). While the relationship isn't all that Catherine had hoped, it does develop and bloom eventually, but it is still a very tumultuous time for all involved. The finale is in sight and it doesn't disappoint. It's unexpected, emotional and thought provoking.
The entire cast were terrific, but I definitely found Gaynor Tensions portrayal of Berthe to be my highlight. An amazing voice, so hilarious and boy did he look good in a wig and sequins. Kat Hoyos, gorgeous assistant to Magician (Sam Larielle) brought so much vim and vigour to her role, sometimes lighting up a scene with simply her facial expressions. The physicality brought to the characters by Benjamin Hoetjes and Zach Smith was also impressive. Kudos to the female cast for wearing only nude body stockings in some scenes, which should surely be noted. The males also deserve a mention for getting around in petite shorts and stockings for some of the scenes too.
From left: Pippin (Mitchell Lagos), Erin Bruce, Aimee Timmins, Kat Hoyos and Leading Player (Benjamin Hoetjes)
Luckily for me, this production by CrinkleCut Productions was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. The band brought the scenes alive with music all a flutter, the actors convinced you to believe their story with the connection they showed for their characters, the dancing and acrobatics were loose and free but with all the precision and elegance you'd expect for seasoned performers and they even squeeze in a little bit of magic.