“Magic To Do” When “Pippin” Hits Broward Center Stage
By Skip Sheffield
They’ve got magic to do starting Tuesday, March 31 and running through April 12 when Broward Center presents the Tony Award-winning Broadway Across America production of “Pippin.”
While “Pippin” is set in the ancient Roman Empire at the time of Charlemagne, its existential dilemma is very contemporary.
This production of “pippin” has two name stars: theater, motion picture and television star Adrienne Barbeau plays Berthe, grandmother of the title character, who is son of Roman Emperor Charlemagne.
Playing Charles, which is the alternate name of Charlemagne, is John Rubinstein.
Rubinstein has quite a lengthy history with “Pippin.” He played the title role when the show opened on Broadway in 1972. It was a time when the Vietnam War was still raging, and the anti-war, anti-authority mood was still prevalent.
“I was 25, playing younger,” Rubinstein revealed in a telephone interview. “I started acting professionally in 1965, so I already had seven years’ experience. I was married and a father, so I was a grownup playing a naïve kid.”
“Pippin” had a lot more satirical and philosophical content as your typical Broadway show, and this 2013 version, directed by Diane Paulus, has a circus theme. Paulus is no stranger to circus. She directed Cirque du Soleil's "Amaluna" earlier this year.
Despite its catchy score by Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell,” “Wicked”) “Pippin” was not a runaway hit. It did not have a conventional musical romantic plot either. Pippin, played by Sam Lips, encounters all manner of obstacles in his quest for maturity and meaning in life.
“It’s a mordant satire on people who killed heathens in the name of Christianity,” Rubinstein explains. “The older version was a lot darker and more cynical. Times have changed, though many of the same problems remain. When I first did the play I realized in 40 years we will be in charge. “Pippin’ is as relevant as ever, even though there are different reactions. It still is good entertainment, with meaning.”
Tickets start at $34.75. Call 800-745-3000 or go to www.browardcenter.org.