“Pippin” is one of the most popular Broadway productions to date. It is one of the most unique shows for an audience to partake in, being it defies almost every theatrical convention and fully accepts a Brechtian type of alienation effect for the viewer. “Pippin” is a metafictional play that focuses on prince Pippin, played by Matthew Moment, trying to solve his existential crisis and character arc, frequently breaking the fourth wall thanks to the Leading Player played by Troy Burkett. Throughout the play, Pippin travels far and wide, experiencing as much of the world as he can until he finds himself and decides his own fate and finale. The Miami Theatre Players picked right up on these key aspects and more in their rendition of the famous show.
Every face on the McKenna stage was committed and coordinated in every scene and musical number. Amanda Ruggieri’s choreography was straightforward yet contained important intricacies and relied heavily on accurate timing, which helped keep the focus on the actors and showcased their specific talents such as Robert Renert’s flips or the many splits and lifts of multiple players on the stage. The stage was put together cohesively, allowing for visibility and transparency keeping up the classic feel of “Pippin,” with the actors acting as their own running crew. The tidbits of the show that help create the universe are what I deem to be some of the most important parts of a theatrical production, especially one that consistently distances itself from established conventions.
To make the show still feel like a play and pull the audience in while pushing them away is a difficult thing to get a hang of, which is why “Pippin” can prove to be a challenge. However, the Miami Theatre Players paid a lot of attention to detail while still keeping up the playfulness of the show and piquing the interests of the audience members. The costumes, down to the small details, helped craft the world for the players on stage and the viewers. Complete with small pieces of dialogue, suggestions and interactions with the audience while staying perfectly in character, this show completely balanced the push and pull “Pippin” provides.
Moment and Burkett worked splendidly together, as Pippin and the Leading Player need to due to their interesting yet intense relationship. These actors complemented one another very well, allowing all the actors on stage to feed off of this energy and play it up, taking the show to a new height as the audience was drawn on into their magical world. Each actor on stage knew what their strengths were and they played off each others’. A show full of confident actors who create that true ensemble feel grants the perfect amount of audience investment. Another important note is to emphasize the incredible voices on Emily Passik (Berthe) and Emily Malings (Catherine), along with the dancing of Alexa Sauro (Fastrada). These women stole the show for me and had some of my favorite numbers, which were “No Time At All” by Passik and “Spread a Little Sunshine” by Sauro.
All in all, the Miami Theatre Players knocked “Pippin” out the park last Thursday, Nov. 30 to Saturday, Dec 2. Their show hit on all the funny, tragic and one-of-a-kind notes “Pippin” needs to, thanks to the fabulous direction of Kevin Burns and the merit of his production team. I am excited to see what else the players have in store for their next productions, as they are definitely capable and skilled enough to put together another impeccable production soon enough!