Mar 27, 2013

Getting Medieval on That Jazz

Pippin at the ART (photo by Michael J. Lutch)

I'd never met Diane Paulus until my recent interview regarding her new revival of Pippin for Time Out NY. We chatted on a rehearsal break at the Manhattan Movement Center on 60th St., blocks from where she grew up on the Upper West Side (and where she still maintains a part-time residence when she's not in Boston running the ART—which, by the way, she never mentions without that prefatory "the"). She told me she grew  up on early '70s Broadway—Dancin', Magic Show, and, of course, that strange medieval-jazz-hands mutant, Pippin, which she's putting a circus spin on for her remount:

“In theater, I always say you live in the moments where things don’t go according to plan, because then all of a sudden everybody wakes up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is live theater!’ In the circus, that’s always happening. When we execute some of the moves in this show, it is real, real, real. And the audience is there, living and breathing with them.”
Personally I find Pippin a deeply puzzling show that could only have been born in the weird collisions of the '70s, when Broadway's hard-headed old-school pros rubbed elbows with, and often threw very sharp elbows at, the next generation of longhaired pop/rock folks. After talking to Paulus, who is nothing if not a great pitchwoman for her vision, I'm almost convinced that her new Pippin might actually have found a way to freshly embody the show's Fosse-vs.-Schwartz frisson (the circus overlay, which she rightly points out isn't that much of a stretch).

In any case, you can RTWT.

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