FOkay, so I saw "Pippin" last night and have about a thousand thoughts on it, but let me begin by saying that this production is not only spectacular but deserving of a transfer and far better than anything that I have seen so far this season.
This production is far and above my favorite of the three "Paulus revivals" in the last few years. It is truly a collaborative effort between her, Chet Walker, and Gypsy Snider, but Paulus's focused hand is very apparent. There was a lot of discussion on here about whether or not the choreo is Fosse's original. There were many moments in this production that are exactly the original (parts of "Glory" being a very specific example, not just including the "Manson Trio" which now features Patina and two of the male players.) Many numbers, though, are now circus numbers which feature some Fosse-esque choreography by Chet Walker but mixed with circus/acrobat work done by Gypsy Snider and illusions by Paul Kieve.
I would have to see this production at least six times to have seen EVERYTHING that was going onstage during the large group numbers. There was so much circus work and stage magic being done constantly that it was impossible to see it all.
The sets and costumes are gorgeous, and the entire company was incredibly together and supportive.
Patina Miller is a star. I must admit I've always been sort of iffy about a female LP, but she is just too amazing to deny. From the first moment she steps onstage in "Magic to Do," she owns this production. She IS the Leading Player. This is an accolade-deserving performance that is powerful, sexy, and scary. All of her numbers were fantastic, but I loved her "Simple Joys" because it featured circus work with the rest of the players and there was something interesting about that concept.
I thought Matthew James Thomas was a fantastic Pippin. He is absolutely right for the character visually, and his acting was fantastic, and vocally he was wonderful. My issues with him are more technical than anything else. He does this peculiar thing when he's belting high at the ends of songs where he does a hunched squat and closes his eyes and grimaces, then stands up on cut-off and makes a face. It's weird. Maybe he picked it up at "Spider-Man," I don't know. Also, I understand that Pippin isn't a "dance role," but Mr. Thomas is not a dancer at all. "On the Right Track" begins as it should, with Pippin unsure of the steps and learning them from the LP. But the fact that he's not a dancer made me feel at the end when he's "full-out dancing" like I was watching my child in a recital. He looked uncomfortable and I felt uncomfortable and I just wanted him to commit to it more and stop staring at his feet.
Terrence Mann and Charlotte d'Amboise were great. Mann is in amazing voice as always, and he was a perfect Charlemagne. d'Amboise is sexy as always, dances and sings her face off. With true professionals like these, I never really doubted that they would be great as Charlemagne and Fastrada so it was more "I'm not surprised they're fantastic" than anything else.
I find the second act of "Pippin" to be at times rushed and weird, but Rachel Bay Jones offers up a beautifully sung and particularly intimate performance of Catherine. She has to hurry the plot along at times, but that's the nature of the book and I found her very human while doing it.
Andrea Martin, is of course, superb. She spits out the jokes to make sure we get them all, which we do and which we love. Also, her "Not Time at All" goes from being fun and funny to absolutely awing. I won't ruin it but Ms. Martin is required to do something that I can assure you that she never thought she'd be doing at this point (or any point) of her career, and I just love her and blah blah blah she's perfect as always.
I was particularly struck by Erik Altemus as Lewis. I foresee him having a very strong future. I know he's been off-Bway and seen regionally, but he has got that "something" and I thought his Lewis was, next to Patina, maybe the richest characterization on the stage.