Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pippin' Bumps, Grinds at Lyric

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pippin' Bumps, Grinds at Lyric

Article excerpt

Back in the vaudeville days, they called hip-swinging, pelvic- projecting dancing "grinds and bumps." In Bob Fosse's day they called it sexy dancing. This year, one might call it raunchy.

The audience at the opening of Pippin at Lyric Theatre couldn't decide what to call the dancing. Those who couldn't decide, left at intermission.

This show, which I'd never seen before, was described as PG-13, not for children, by director/choreographer Nick Demos, who's also the artistic director of Lyric. He is right. However, those who didn't remain through the final act missed the message of the hit Broadway musical first staged by dancer/choreographer Bob Fosse in 1972. Pippin actually is a morality play. Tom Stuart plays the title role, with the innocence and dreams of his earlier role as the young man in The Fantasticks. Davis Kirby, in the part of Leading Player, is the epitome of evil as he tempts Pippin, a naive young man newly graduated from Padua College. The light-haired Stuart and the dark- haired Kirby are excellent foils for each other.

The program gives the time of the play as "780 A.D., Thereabouts," and the place as "The Holy Roman Empire, Thereabouts." Demos had said he "modernized" the musical so we would say the time is now and place is more like Greenwich Village's annual Halloween Gay Parade.

Actually, the settings for this musical are perfect and the new lighting is as well done as you'd see on Broadway. (Well, with just a couple of first-night bobbles.)

The costumes? Imaginative, dynamic, versatile, contemporary and, of course, sexy. Lots of satin, silver lame, see-through chiffons, rhinestones, black fishnet hose, "hot" pants, fringe, bras sporting two long-necked funnels. Well, you get the idea. Jeffrey Meek served as costume designer.

The only character who even closely resembles the role he plays, that of King Charlemagne, Pippin's father, is Jonathan Beck Reed, a familiar face on Broadway as well as at Lyric. He is dressed in a kingly fashion (blue and silver brocade and glittering silver crown on his long gray hair) and he acts as a king should -- arrogant, dictatorial, fierce, skirt-chasing, religious (sort of) and terribly funny. …

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