Pippin | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Emulating New York's ballyhooed "Encores" series, which mounts neglected musicals for short runs in a concert format, producer-director Travis Stockley has assembled a crew of first-rate local talent for a one-night rendition of this rarely revived 1972 Broadway hit, a pop musical about the generational conflict between medieval warlord Charlemagne and his rebellious, freethinking son Pippin. As Kevin Boyd Grubb recounts in Razzle Dazzle, his biography of Bob Fosse, the show's development was marked by tensions between the middle-aged director-choreographer and the show's young composer, Stephen Schwartz. Widespread critical reaction at the time held that Fosse's ingenious, sexy staging had redeemed mediocre material; but Schwartz's score contains some pretty and well-crafted songs ("Corner of the Sky," "Morning Glow," "Magic to Do"), and it will be interesting to see how the work holds up in the hands of director Stockley and the estimable choreographer Jim Corti. (Schwartz has allowed Stockley to restore previously cut music and dialogue.) Starring the formidable E. Faye Butler in the (originally male) role of Pippin's quasi-demonic guide, Patrick Finn as Pippin, Barbara Robertson as his bawdy stepmother, and Paula Scrofano, John Reeger, and Alene Robertson, among other leading players, the evening boasts a 40-member ensemble, musical director Margaret Bell, and operatic great William Warfield as host. Presented by the Music Theatre Foundation, a Stockley project to develop new musicals, the program is a benefit for the AIDS-support charity Season of Concern. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, 988-9000 or 902-1500. Monday, April 29, 8 PM. $40; $65 for "Golden Circle" seating (includes postshow reception). --Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Richard Dionisio.

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