Here''s a Broadway musical about a young man who sets out to discover true meaning in his life, dabbling in war, sex, and politics before finding love. That may sound conventional, but it isn''t. The title character of Pippin is the son of Charlemagne, the 9th-century emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and when Bob Fosse directed the original Broadway production in 1972, he transformed what had begun as a fairly innocent college project for composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz into a burlesque filled with broad comedy, bawdy characters, and magical but dark situations. Pippin (played by William Katt, of TV''s The Greatest American Hero) embarks on his quest, all the way coaxed and goaded by a narrator figure known as the Leading Player (Ben Vereen) while his stepmother (Chita Rivera) schemes.
Schwartz''s pop-rock score may not be as recognizable as his work for Godspell and various animated films (The Prince of Egypt, Disney''s Pocahontas), but it does include the soul-driven opener "Magic to Do" (showing off Fosse''s signature white gloves), the soaring "Corner of the Sky," the lovely ballad "With You" (indelicately presented in a brothel), and the romping "No Time at All" (by Martha Raye as Pippin''s grandmother). Not as technically polished as newer shows preserved on video (Into the Woods, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), this live 1981 performance of Pippin is probably of greatest interest to Fosse fans as a record of his striking vision. (The original show won five Tony Awards, including for Fosse''s direction and choreography and Vereen''s performance.) Note, however, that this Canadian television production was supervised, not directed, by Fosse, and is missing some numbers from the original show. --David Horiuchi
Pippin is a pip of a Broadway musical that is not only a contemporary classic but also the play that made director choreographer Bob Fosse a famous name long before "Cabaret" and "All That Jazz". Using the medieval legend of Charlemagne''s son, Pippin, heir apparent to the Holy roman Empire, the musical pageant called "Pippin" is a parable about a young man''s search for meaning and truth. With the show''s masterful master of ceremonies, Ben Vereen, jumping the time barrier from the 1980''s to the Middle Ages and back again, while the music and costumes go through similar time and space warps, young "Pippin" embarks on an odyssey to discovery whether there really is "something worthwhile I can do with my life." William Katt plays-sings-and-dances the title role with a freshness and exuberance rarely seen in today''s entertainment on stage or screen. Broadway''s virtuoso baritone, Ben Rayson, is as regal as they come as Charlemagne. The sheer intensity of Vereen''s many-faceted talents steals the show again and again, but he never upstages his co-stars. Martha Raye brings her boisterous energy to the role of Berthe, Pippin''s 67 year old grandmother, while Chita Rivera ignites sparks every time she prances into a scene as Pippin''s stepmother. The success of "Pippin," wining five Tony Awards and playing to sellout houses for six years is also what brought recognition to its star, Ben Vereen, long before his acclaimed portrayal of "Chicken George" in "Roots". With all of its distinctions, "Pippin" has never existed anywhere but Live, on stage, until this videotape production, supervised by Mr. Fosse, and produced and directed for television by David Sheehan. It''s the one video experience you''ll always treasure! Bonus Features: Bonus Interview with Bob Fosse| Actor Bios| Scene Selection. Specs: DVD5; Dolby Digital Stereo; 112 minutes; Color; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1981; SRP - $19.99.
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