Tuesday, June 11, 2013

You Know You Are Getting Old....

.....When more and more the hit Musicals on Broadway are shows that you remember being brand new on the stage when you were young.

Sunday night's Tony Winner for Revival of a Musical is one such example for me.

PIPPIN

It debuted on Broadway in October of 1972 and ran until June of 1977, meaning it ran the entirety of my teenage years and closed the month I graduated high school.
I bought the album sometime in 1973 when I was 14 years old.

Though I was never in a production of it, I bought the original cast album(remember those....albums?)the day it hit the record store shelves and I about wore it out singing along and memorizing numbers to use as audition pieces.

On Sunday, Pippin also received 3 individual awards for acting to Patina Miller(the Leading Player role) and Andrea Martin(Grandma Bertha)and the Direction of a Musical statuette went to Diane Paulus.
Bravo ladies.....

I so wish I had seen the Great  Irene Ryan in the Berthe role(Irene Ryan =Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies).
Here's a clip of one of Granny's replacements in the video production done in 1981.   A Classic comedienne of the 1940's, Martha Raye took her turn at the role.
She's ok but I picture Granny as better.
It's kind of long this clip so I don't blame you if you don't watch it all.....




Here's the incomparable Ben Vereen as the Leading Player(he was the originator of the role) from that film made of the show in 1981. 
I content that when he was at the top of his game, few interpreted Bob Fosse's dance vision better.
Take a look.   The dance number begins at 3:58....



Now watch this clip from Letterman's show of part of that dance number with the current cast members(it's at the beginning of the clip).  They go on to do another number, but watch the first number of the original Fosse moves.



I know that with Revivals of shows it's a balancing act between recreating the original numbers and the "look" of the show, with a new, fresh interpretation. 
With a revival coming so many years after the original production(40 years!), more people seeing it will have little if any recollection of the original production(unless they are OLD enough to remember the original version). 

For the record, I don't care for this production as much as the original version.
Some of it is more appropriate in a production of "Carnival" than "Pippin".
Yes, it's a slicker more polished version(with modern cirque du soleil type circus acts, instead of a blend of medieval morality plays and commedia dell'arte type moves and characters)of the show.
And you have to agree film technology has certainly come a long way since the early '80's!
Granted the revivals clips aren't filmed on the regular stage the show is presented on, but still....
I guess it's a no brainer to model it on a Cirque show......they sell out and run forever everywhere they play.  They sell tickets and put butts in the seats so why not steal that formula for the Pippin revival.

But it's lost it's dark, seedy and sinister foreboding undertones that the original production had for the sake of keeping audiences....current younger theater goers with shorter attention spans who need flashy and sparkle and can't focus on something for any amount of time without checking their smartphones or something.
The revival has got too much Shinola and not enough shit as it were. ;-)


And here's the opening number from the 1981 film with Ben Vereen.  Near the end of it notice the actress in the mask who says a very sarcastic, "Fantastic".  That's the legend Chita Rivera.





And from the new production,  a clip from Sunday night's Tony Awards show, a montage of numbers from Pippin.





Sluggy

1 comment:

  1. I rode the Pippin, one of the world's oldest wooden roller coasters. It was located in Memphis and was Elvis favorite roller coaster.

    Okay, I will go watch the clips.

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