Pippin continues at the Royal Theatre Carré, Amsterdam until 10 April.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For a month-long engagement, the Dutch are being treated to the US touring company of Pippin, a part of the new yearly Broadway on the Amstel series in Amsterdam.
This is sadly the only European and last stop of the tour. There couldn’t be a more appropriate venue than the beautiful, recently refurbished and circus-like Royal Theatre Carré for this magical Broadway revival of the overlooked masterpiece that is Pippin, resurrected by director Diane Paulus, choreographed by Bob Fosse’s former assistant Chet Walker, and with the precious collaboration of Les 7 Doigts De La Main circus from Montreal.
Portraying the title role until 20 March was Broadway leading man of Next to Normal and Xanadu, Kyle Dean Massey, repeating his performance straight from Broadway last year.
In addition to his vocal acting prowess and good looks, his dancing talent was well displayed in the duet ‘On the Right Track’, with the impressive Gabrielle McClinton, also reprising her portrayal of the Leading Player from the last Broadway cast, far superior to her predecessor, Patina Miller.
Sabrina Harper’s dancing was equally fine in Fastrada’s big number, ‘Spread a Little Sunshine’. Adrienne Barbeau’s performance as Berthe was moving, featuring some breathtaking, unexpected acrobatics during the song ‘No Time At All’.
Bradley Benjamin was quite believable and vocally spot-on as Catherine, Pippin’s girlfriend, and Erik Altemus, repeating his depiction of Lewis from the original cast of the Broadway revival, was wonderfully sleazy and stupid enough!
The Circus Players, notably Nico Maffey, from Buenos Aires, were not only spectacular in their craft, but equally at ease in the song, dance and acting departments.
Completing this close to perfect cast was John Rubinstein, the original Pippin of 1972, portraying Charlemagne 44 years later as he did in the second cast at the Music Box Theatre.
This Pippin for the 21st century was even more enjoyable here in Amsterdam than on Broadway.
There’s no doubt that this spectacular circus-style production would be a great success in London. It’s even surprising that the multi award-winning revival only lasted a little less than two years on Broadway, as it does more justice to the original piece than the overly minimalist revival of Chicago does to that other Fosse masterpiece.
Stephen Schwartz’s score is arguably even better than his one for Wicked, which would make him so famous 30 years later. It’s a little sad this perfect Tony-winning Broadway revival didn’t quite succeed in putting Pippin on the map of the very best Broadway musicals, where it deserves to belong.
Roger O. Hirson’s book has a deepness rarely found in musicals, especially enhanced for this production and fully developing the circus metaphor on top of the showbiz layer of Bob Fosse’s original vision.
The choreography is masterfully re-created here by Walker and his assistants, seamlessly melted into the circus creation by Gypsy Snider and well served by a terrific multi-talented ensemble.
Run, fly or swim to Amsterdam for this exclusive run of Pippin which ends on 10 April.