Pippin at Charing Cross Theatre

I am no stranger to Pippin having reviewed it 3 times for my website alone. My most recent review was last year at The Garden Theatre and this is a reincarnation of that show by the director.

Pippin tells of a young man who is keen to live an extraordinary life. In trying to do so he experiences many things, from scholarly pursuits to war and from sex to ruling the kingdom. He however ends up meeting a widow and her son and it is this relationship that leads him to think that there may be more to life than simply being extraordinary.

Similar to the production at the Garden Theatre this production takes Pippin back to its roots. As you enter the theatre you find yourself surrounded by swathes of tie dye fabric on the wall and a strong smell of incense lingers in the air. The costumes echo this ‘summer of love’ vibe as do the strings of lights which are placed over the stage.

Ryan Anderson returns to the role of Pippin and he retains his boyish charm which ensures that the audience can’t help but like Pippin. Anderson has a strong voice and in the auditorium of Charing Cross theatre we are treated to his beautiful rendition of ‘Corner of the Sky.’ Nearly stealing the show is Genevieve Nicole who plays Berthe, Pippin’s grandmother. Her comic timing is impeccable and had the audience laughing along during her number ‘No Time At All.’

Catherine, Pippin’s love interest is played by Natalie McQueen. One thing I love about Pippin is how differently all of those who I have seen play Catherine interpret the role and Natalie McQueen is no exception to this. She had a certain playfulness to her in this role, an ability to both tease Pippin whilst at the same time making him feel welcome in her home.

Ian Carlyle took on the role of the Leading Player, making every effort to manipulate the action for Pippin. He had a commanding presence, easily believable by the end that he was pulling the strings. His voice was also remarkably easy to listen to, adding to his smooth veneer that he presented.

Despite the director being the same as the garden theatre the show felt different due to the space. In the Garden Theatre many of the one liners landed better, some of the close up magic makes more sense and the energy seemed higher but this was possibly due to the fact that the cast were at the a few meters away from each audience member. At the Charing Cross Theatre however the stakes felt higher for Pippin. At the end when the Leading Player orders everything to be stripped back, this felt more exposed with the uncomfortable silence filling the auditorium, which is exactly what Pippin needs by this point. The sound, designed by Keegan Curran was also spot on. The musicians were just 2 in number with keys and guitar however the orchestration never felt empty and even the moments where the players were facing away from my side of the audience we could hear them easily.

This is an accomplished production of Pippin which was visually beautiful and sounded just as stunning. A wonderful vision for this odd show, realised well by the cast.

Pippin is running until the 14th August at Charing Cross Theatre. To find out more about the show and to book tickets please visit their website here.

If you liked this review you might also like my review for Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Abba Mania and my article on who sings Any Dream Will Do, better.

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