Pippin at Sydney Lyric Theatre

Pippin at Sydney Lyric Theatre


Posted 2020-12-12 by Adrian Kmitafollow

Thu 03 Dec 2020 - Sun 31 Jan 2021

Sydney has been starved in recent times of worthy entertainment options, an unfortunate byproduct of the global pandemic. But finally, musical lovers can sing at the top of their lungs and breathe a sigh of relief as the theatre industry opens its doors once more post lockdown. Sydney's Lyric Theatre will be first to entertain guests with the long-overdue Broadway production of the hit musical Pippin. The amazing production is based on the Broadway revival which debuted in 2013, starring Petina Miller and Andrea Martin. The show won four Tony Awards including Best Leading Actress and Best Revival of a Musical. Pippin was a massive success on Broadway, before embarking on an American tour, which was later followed by a tour across the world.

The thought-provoking musical tells the tale of the main protagonist Pippin, first son of King Charlemagne, as he returns home from studies and begins to question the meaning of life. He finds himself completely lost and at a crossroads without a sense of purpose. When his complicated family attempt to offer their own advice this only confuses Pippin further, as he embarks on a painstaking search to find a fulfilling life. However, everything is not as it appears, with the show essentially becoming a play within a play, as a troupe of y circus performers recreate Pippin's story using magic and acrobatics, in addition to a selection of funky tunes and elaborate dance numbers. We are first introduced to the charismatic and elusive Lead Player, a ringmaster of sorts, who sets the stage for the evening's events. At the same time, she is the persuasive voice inside Pippin's head, playing the role of Pippin's conscience. The question is, are her motives genuine, or does she have her own agenda in mind? This leads Pippin on an extravagant journey where he experiences the horrors of war, raunchy sex and even murder before he finds love with a widow and her only son.

Producers John Frost and Suzanne Jones put together an incredible cast for the show, combining an eclectic blend of skills and talents that have to be seen to be believed. The result is a colourful mosaic that is a feast for the eyes. The composition and music are sensational, blending elements of jazz, funk and folk, creating an amazing soundtrack that will have audiences clapping their hands and tapping their feet.

The sensational Gabrielle McClinton stars as the Lead Player, returning hot off the heels of Pippin's international tour following her run on Broadway where she inherited the lead role from Tony Award winner Patina Miller. She has subsequently made the role her own, offering the androgynous character a sense of power and grace through her athleticism, captivating sensuality and stellar vocals. McClinton is completely mesmerising as she commands the stage while creating the vast majority of scene-stealing moments. Her powerful voice, slick dance moves and beautiful charisma make her an irreplaceable component of the show.

Ainsley Melham returns to Sydney following his role in Aladdin after a stint on Broadway, quickly growing his resume as one of Australia's more formidable performers. In the lead role, he offers an amazing performance as Pippin. Melham hits all the right notes in addition to providing a highly energetic performance, as he portrays a lost soul trying to find meaning in his life. He literally has a lot of elements to juggle and manages to balance them all brilliantly, while simultaneously conveying an admirable level of humility.

Meanwhile, Kerri-Anne Kennerly is immensely surprising as Pippin's witty grandmother Berthe. She has big shoes to fill in the wake of Andrea Martin's show-stealing performance in Broadway's principal cast, but she does exceptionally well. Kennerly manages to balance charm, risque humour and incredible physical stamina as she provides one of the show's scene-stealing moments. Considering her relative inexperience in musical theatre, she has clearly put a lot of work into the role, giving the audience a plethora of surprises that will have crowds gasping in awe and crying for more.

The incomparable Leslie Bell is sensational as Pippin's conniving stepmother Fastrada. She completely redefines the role, taking the character's provocative persona to new heights. Her dance numbers are totally compelling as she glides around the stage as if floating on air. Simultaneously she manages to emanate an alluring sensuality that will leave audiences with a lasting impression. She is the perfect casting and is even able to surpass what Charlotte d'Amboise achieved with the original 2013 cast on Broadway.

Simon Burke as King Charles is a real treat, offering dry humour to go along with an aura of regal arrogance which is tremendously entertaining. His stage experience shines through, especially during his interactions with Pippin. In short, he is very well cast. Meanwhile, Euan Doidge embraces the role of Pippin's step brother Lewis, with a memorable performance that explores the full extent of his flamboyance and quirkiness.

The rest of the eclectic ensemble also offer a unique range of talents and skills, perfectly demonstrated with spectacular displays of rhythmic motion and acrobatics during Pippin's broad array of entertaining dance numbers. A standout is Olivia Carniato, who provides the show with an elegance and stage presence that are completely captivating and alluring. This is in addition to Suzanne Steele, who offers the production a vivacious energy that shines brightly.

Pippin really is a story of two acts, with the first being a dazzling blend of colour and stimulating movement that is driven forward by fabulous musical composition and incredibly memorable songs. The second is more of a love story that tremendously slows the narrative drive, with the exception of its incredible opening number. Plot weaknesses in the second act however are drowned out by a stunning selection of songs that will have audiences wanting to own the soundtrack. The spectacular production features songs composed by award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, also known for his work on Wicked and Godspell. The stellar soundtrack includes "Magic to Do", "Corner of the Sky", "Simple Joys", "No Time a All", "Morning Glow" and "On the Right Track".

In summary, the Australian production of Pippin is poised to set the Sydney theatre industry alight, with a show that captivates the mind and sparks the imagination. The well-designed production is full of colourful flare, with some of the catchiest tunes you will hear. The cast is also simply stellar, working in perfect unison to create a musical that rivals the best on Broadway. Pippin is an absolute must see!

Exclusive one on one interview with Gabrielle McClinton

First look at Pippin the musical at Sydney Lyric Theatre

#theatre -reviews
!date 03/12/2020 -- 31/01/2021
216898 - 2023-06-16 07:30:19


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