Pippin swings into Houston

Pippin swings into Houston

Jimmieka Mills, News Editor

Pippin is filled with burlesque moves, jazz hands and sexual innuendos. Visualize a mash up of Cirque du Soleil, Chicago and a magic show all wrapped up in one.

My head was throbbing and neck was strained by the end of the show; not because of the music but because all of the action. I couldn’t decide where to turn my attention, so I tried to see a little bit of everything.

The play is about a young man named Pippin, who desperately desires to be exceptional and to do what he considers extraordinary things. The play chronicles his quest to find the meaning of life through the escapades of war, sex, politics, social consciousness and domesticity. He is lead on this journey by the cool, calm Leading Player.

The players, as they are credited, are not your usual actors in a typical play. These players are trained high flying acrobats who do handstands, backflips, juggle, zoom across gigantic exercise balls, balance on one arm, vault through hoops, toss each other around like beanbags — one of them is even swung like a jump rope.

Berthe, Pippin’s grandmother, is played by Adrienne Barbeau. She stole the show. The stripping, dancing, youthfully flexible granny engaged the crowd and kept our attention with her sing-a-long, “No Time at All.”

As the Lead player constantly reminds the audience that the climax will be unforgettable, it proved to be the polar opposite. For all the action that was crammed into the first half of the play the second had virtually none.

Gabrielle McClinton as the Leading Player is a great fit. She keeps the play moving and shows her character’s dimension, especially in the second act. This was too late to keep the audience’s attention.

The players provided a great distraction for the audience while preparing the stage for the next scenes. They made set removal a highly entertaining theatrical experience.

During intermission, attendees chattered about everything they had seen and their excitement for what was to come. The disappearing corpse of King Charlemagne, a body-less pair of legs and a talking head.

Intermission was a time to recap everything that was seen and some things that were missed as well as a prediction of what was to come in the second act.

That excitement turned to whispers of “Wait, that’s it?” as the play ended by stripping all elaborate set design and fading down to the drab, clearly under construction set behind.

Typically, a play will work up to the flash and awe of the climax. However, this show gives it to you flat out. Think of your favorite fairytale, now imagine it in reverse how sad would it be to see Cinderella lose it all and end in squalor.

With all the action crammed into the beginning of the show and the promise of a grand finale for the ages, the audience may have been spoiled. It’s a play on the old adage: it’s not the destination but the journey.

Pippin continues at Houston’s Hobby Center through Sunday Oct. 25, with performances Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and 2 pm matinees on both Saturday and Sunday. For tickets and information call 800-982-2787, or visit the website at BroadwayAtTheHobbyCenter.com.