By Joan Marcus, courtesy “Pippin“Pippin
Among the most anticipated new musicals to open on Broadway this season was “Pippin,” a revival of the whimsical 1970s show that has riveted audiences with its combination of classical theatrical and contemporary circus elements. The show made its bow in late April to positive reviews.
Director Diane Paulus chose to augment the show’s original script with a modern circus theme, bringing in a troupe of talented acrobats, jugglers and other performers to complement the cast of singers and dancers. Together, the multitalented crew tells the story of Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, as he tries to find fulfillment in life as an adult.
The acrobatic performances fill out the lighthearted original script with remarkable feats of strength and agility, bringing the worlds of musical performance and circus performance together in unexpected ways. The show also includes some nods to the choreography created by legendary director Bob Fosse for the original production.
“Pippin” contains some mature themes — the equivalent of a PG-13 movie — so it may not be the most appropriate show for very young visitors. It was nominated for 10 Tony awards, including nods for lighting, costume and set design and the award for best revival of a musical.
A crop of new shows are in the pipeline to open on Broadway this fall and next spring. Many take their inspiration from popular movies and musicals from the late 20th century.
Kicking off the season is the Broadway debut of “First Date,” a new musical comedy written by veterans of television and film production. The show depicts the pitfalls of a young couple’s first blind date, which unfolds in front of the audience in real time. The production was developed in Seattle and is scheduled to open August 4.
“Big Fish” is scheduled to open in New York in early October after a successful tryout in Chicago. The musical is based on the 1998 novel and 2003 film of the same name. The creative team behind the show includes Tony-winning veterans of shows such as “The Producers” and the “The Addams Family.”
Spring 2014 will bring a lineup of new shows likely to be blockbusters. Leading the pack is “Aladdin,” a new musical by Disney Theatrical that is based on the smash 1992 animated movie. The new show will replace Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” which ended its Broadway run this spring.
Sylvester Stallone and a team of theater producers recently announced intentions to bring “Rocky” to Broadway in March. The production, which had a successful run in Hamburg, Germany, this spring, is based on the Oscar-winning 1976 film and features new music created exclusively for the stage show.
Fans of 1990s theater will want to visit New York to see the return of “Les Miserables” to Broadway next spring. The company behind the popular musical is marking the 25th anniversary of its debut with a revamped production that will feature new orchestration and updated costuming, staging and set design.
Also arriving in the spring is “If/Then,” an original romantic musical that follows a middle-aged woman’s adventures as she moves to Manhattan to begin a new life. The show is set to open in late March.