Pippin sits across from me, taking small sips of his still-hot coffee. He begins in most cliché manner and tells me, “It all began when—” He pauses. “I had just gotten out of school…”
He blushes. The last word trails off. It opens the door to some reverie: one that evokes a whirlwind of memories; a million lives lived; the most heartfelt comedy; the most pitiful tragedy. I feel a wave of emotions, all those that he has felt—still feels—wash over me. I feel…warm. Overwhelmed by his grasp on me. I’m utterly captivated, mesmerized, stunned—that you’ve read this far into my Pippin fanfic.
How is it so far? Bear in mind, this is only the intro. If you would like the rest, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I am not going to post it here because I am absolutely certain that Katie would hurt me for it and Ajit would have me blacklisted from life if I took this, of all blog posts, that route.
I am incredibly fascinated with Pippin though. The character, not the show. Well, rather, the character because of the show—the fact that he has one. I didn’t get it at first: his being the titular character and all. I always believed those roles should be reserved for extraordinary (😉) figures: Erin Brockovich, Billy Eliot, Billy Madison, Nancy Drew, Miss Saigon, Shrek.
Before I saw the show, being a diligent journalist, I researched Pippin; but all I found was “Pepin the Hunchback, eldest son of Charlemagne,” and got really freaking bored really freaking quickly. Then, the English major within me tried an extensive Google Translate search, to try and find if “pippin” was maybe, like, a symbolic name for something; but, again, I failed to generate any meaningful results and was forced to assume it was in the tradition of Cirque du Solei, whose shows like Toruk and Zumanity mean literally nothing except maybe “man, I wish I had gone to see the Blue Man Group instead.”
This had me worried: why would Cabaret willingly put on a production about a boy that didn’t seem exciting at all?
“It pulls out all the stops: a gorgeous cast, stunning music, beautiful costumes,” Rebecca Madeira (Berthe) reassures me.
Despite the fact that I really didn’t want to, given Rebecca’s comment and the reality that Evil Katie Siegel™ would yell at me if I didn’t go for the blog, I decided to catch a tech performance of the show to put my uncertainties to rest.
Spoiler: I was proven wrong.
Anti-spoiler: I really can’t tell you how.
No, like, I can tell you that the vision was well thought-out, sharp, and clearly realized; the choreography was stunning, interesting, and really impressive to somebody who cannot even do a two-step; the music was so well-put together and mixed that, when they started playing the show’s opening bars, I genuinely thought it was the soundtrack before I realized the show was actually starting; and the performances were so honest and engaging that in Cabaret’s lil’ intimate space I quickly and easily absorbed into the material.
“It is filled with extremely talented players, some killer music (some straight-up bops), amazing sets, lights, and costumes, and most of all, magic!” says Maya Mitterhoff (Catherine) (which surprised me because I thought Cabaret was against magic ever since they turned down my Uncle Magic: a Hip Hop Magician: a Mystical Revue special project 🙄).
But I can’t tell you anymore specifics though because of confidentiality and mysteriousness and the fact that we’re both aware that this is a marketing tease to bait you into seeing for yourself, March 29-31 & April 6-7 at 8 PM and April 8 at 7 PM at Cabaret Theatre, 7 Suydam Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.
You can’t entirely blame me though: I did really want to talk more about what’s going on in the show, but the (Delightful, albeit Scary) MAN shut me down whenever I tried. This (Handsome) MAN even has such a lock on the details that when I asked Rebecca to comment on a particular piece of the vision I was told: “Out of fear of saying something I’m not allowed to say, no.”
And I know what you’re thinking (not me, you, totally not me): The authoritarian! The tyrant! The oppressor! He might as well be Fox News the way he denies the public any inkling of decent information! (I’m so sorry for political jokes, I know they’re worn out by now, but I couldn’t help myself). But, in reality, Pippin’s director, Ajit J. Mathews, is being lauded by his cast:
“I also totally admire our insanely talented ring leader Ajit J Mathews for bringing this show to a new level of extraordinary. I can't imagine doing the show with anyone else as director,” Maya tells me.
But wait—what about Pippin...the person? The show’s great, sure, yeah, we get that now. And the suspense and secrecy are warranted for what you get—yes, we’ve established that; but what about its titular character? Can I at least talk about him more? He was the conceit I started this whole piece with—am I really going to just leave that open-ended too?? Am I that committed to messing with an audience I won’t even resolve that bit??? Am I so cold-hearted?? Is every nasty thing my mother’s ever said about me true????????
In order: I’m getting to that, still getting to it, sorta, kinda, pretty much, that’s a bit of a stretch, and yeah probably.
Pippin is…extra ordinary. For sure. He is more than ordinary, that is correct.
“He is so human compared to the rest of the characters in this show. I love the innocence of the character of Pippin,” says Sophie Hill (Player).
The musical tracks his peculiar coming-of-age through war, sex, politics, and love, and puts on full display his joyous highs and his gloomy lows. Also: he’s followed by this dumb lit troupe of “players” who do all kind of dumb lit things and are way cooler of a narrative device than, like, an ancient Greek chorus or the band of criminals in one of those subpar 00s heist movies.
“I've always thought of the players to be performers who truly make this show seem so glamorous” Sophie continues. But she differentiates: “You can see throughout the show how the production is second hand to all the players, but to Pippin he's just still trying to figure himself out.”
But does he figure himself out? Is he #Extraordinary? Guess you’ll have to #JoinUs at Cabaret for #CabPippin to find out for yourself #marketing.
Photo Credits: Paolo Arceo