REVIEW: Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s ‘Pippin’ delivered magic with more to come
The quest to discover one’s destiny can be both exciting and harrowing.
After opening with musical classic West Side Story last month to kick off Reagle Music Theater of Greater Boston’s summer season, Bob Fosse’s unmistakable style took the stage in Reagle’s follow up summer musical Pippin, a tale within a tale about destiny and realizing where one fits in the world. Pippin resembles a morality play and Pippin, portrayed with earnest naiveté and enthusiasm by Kenny Lee, is convinced he was created for an extraordinary purpose and will stop at nothing to find it.
Directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone with Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston had a lot more magic to do, but the musical Pippin had to shorten its run due to Covid concerns. However, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston will have another chance to create some magic at a one night only cabaret fundraiser featuring the Pippin cast on live and in person on August 26 at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston in Waltham, MA at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets early and get a discount. Click here for more information and tickets.
Led by Boston based award-winning actor and singer Davron Monroe, the musical Pippin was a wonder to witness though the plot itself is a bit uneven at times and the musical is not appropriate for children. Based on the originally-directed Bob Fosse musical and Diane Paulus’s Tony award-winning revival, Pippin ran at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston in Waltham, MA through August 7. Click here for more on Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s upcoming events.
Set initially in a traveling circus, cast members immersed the audience in this mystical tale within a tale also set in the Middle Ages by occasionally marching down the aisles, addressing the audience and encouraging an occasional sing-along.
Scenic designer Cameron McEchern seamlessly handled the frequent “magical” changes of scenery as Pippin explored various aspects of one’s existence from sophisticated royalty to military life to the simplicity of farming life and much more in between. From bright, bedazzled and exotic costumes to the simplicity of the Middle Ages, costume designer Jake O’Hara and Emerald City Theatricals helped to create this versatile and dynamic world shared skillfully by charismatic Davron Monroe as the complicated narrator and mysterious advisor, Leading Player. Monroe’s resounding vocals and quick comic wit lent to his compelling performance, especially for Magic to Do and the lively On the Right Track. However, Monroe’s most captivating work was saved for the twist-filled finale.
The costumes along with Rachel Bertone’s dazzling and at times racy choreography offered subtle nods to Fosse’s signature style including top hat, cane, and scantily clad, Chicago-inspired dancers. Even Monroe gave a subtle nod to Fosse’s Razzle Dazzle.
Like Chicago, Pippin has some surprising moments and often addressed the dark side of humanity. Pippin is looking for meaning as expressed quite wonderfully with Corner of the Sky. Lee portrays Pippin with wide-eyed optimism, chatty naiveté, and a free spirit which make him more sympathetic than egotistical, even when Pippin makes some poor choices.
King Charlemagne, depicted with gravitas, charm, and stubbornness by Damon Singletary, is no stranger to the monarchy having portrayed the king in Concord’s past Umbrella Arts Theatre musical, Head over Heels. Stern and shrewd Singletary delivered some wise and memorable dialogue and has a good rapport with his son, Pippin. Kathy St. George as spicy and fun loving Berthe is a particular highlight, especially during the number, No Time at All. Berthe offers Pippin and the audience valuable life lessons and an occasional sing-along through humor, joy, and wit. Kenny Lee as Pippin and Kathy St. George have some endearing chemistry and Berthe’s vibrant dance moves and her occasional engagement with the audience make her a difficult act to follow.
Katie Ann Clark as seductive and materialistic Fastrada and Joel Douglas as handsome, dimwitted and egotistical Lewis make formidable adversaries and Kayla Shimizu shines as headstrong, patient, and graceful Catherine.
It is a shame that Pippin could not continue for its full run because it had a lot to say about the key to happiness and what is truly important in life. However, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston will have another opportunity for some magic at a one night only cabaret fundraiser featuring the Pippin cast live and in person on August 26 at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston in Waltham, MA at 7 p.m. Click here for more information and tickets.