05/09/17 - Pippin at Hope Mill Theatre

While I am far from an expert, it's rare for me to head to the theatre to see a musical that I have absolutely no preconceptions of - I tend to be familiar with at least a couple of the songs if nothing else!  For this reason, I was very excited to head over to Hope Mill Theatre for the first preview of their latest in-house production, Pippin, without knowing much about it at all.

You may remember from earlier posts that I have been consistently impressed by Hope Mill Theatre and it was great to be back again.  As with previous productions, seating is unreserved and the audience are admitted in batches so it pays to be there in plenty of time.  However, the theatre space is really intimate, meaning there's hardly a bad seat in the house.  We settled ourselves on the right hand side of the raised thrust stage which runs the length of the room and culminates in a temporary proscenium arch which hides the nine-piece band led by Zach Flis.  Being so close to the performers really ramps up the effectiveness of the production, as the energy spilling from the stage is infectious.  Jonathon O'Boyle, who also directed Hope Mill's Hair, has done another fantastic job of putting together a slick team who are totally in-sync with each other, with regular nods in costuming and choreography to the show's original director Bob Fosse.
© Anthony Robling

Once the performance started, it turned out that I was vaguely familiar with a couple of the numbers - almost definitely subliminally absorbed by listening to Elaine Paige's Sunday lunchtime Radio 2 programme.  Other than that, it was all new to me and what a treat it was!  With music and lyrics from Wicked's Stephen Schwartz and with several Tony Awards under its belt, Pippin tells the story of a young man trying everything he can think of to find his place in the world and is (very) loosely based on the son of Charlemagne, Pepin.  The journey of self-discovery is one that I'm sure everyone in the audience could relate to on some level, and Jonathan Carlton's Pippin is incredibly endearing.  The audience are guided through Pippin's journey by the enigmatic and occasionally menacing Leading Player, performed spectacularly by Genevieve Nicole, who leads her troupe of sideshow performers with aplomb. Very much presented as a play within a play, the show becomes increasingly meta and as the performers regularly break the fourth wall, the audience feel really immersed in the world of the show.

© Anthony Robling

Pippin is running at Hope Mill Theatre until 23rd September, and tickets are available here.  Particularly since Hope Mill's last two in-house productions have made the transition down to London following their original run, this is not one to be missed.  If you absolutely can't wait to see it, you're in luck - use the code MAGIC to get £15 tickets for this week's performances (until 10th September, excluding Saturday)!

No comments:

Be the first to comment on this post: