Pippin at Hope Mill
“Pippin” Hope Mill Theatre
The performance area is pure vaudeville. Light bulbs frame a catwalk of wooden floorboards stretching back into a proscenium of darkness from where the players emerge and retreat. The space exudes the feeling of anticipation that something special is about to happen and happen it most certainly did.
Featuring a troupe of just ten performers and nine musicians, “Pippin” is a bold, big top of a show. In a summer that saw the UK lose its last great all round entertainer (rip Sir Brucie) it was heartening and spellbinding in equal measure to watch a young cast display such an impressive range of talents. The vocals were stunning, the comic timing and delivery of the one liners was spot on and the dancing and acrobatics were never less than impressive.
The story about a young man's endless search for his purpose in life resonates as much today as it ever has and the scenes and songs that linked Pippin's journey together made for an exceptionally entertaining evening.
Out of such a strong team Genevieve Nicole was a commanding puppet mistress of ceremonies, channelling flashes of Joel Grey and Frank N. Furter along the way.
Jonathan Carlton gave equal amounts of charm and bite to what could so easily have been a bland Pippin who the more outrageous characters revolve around and Mairi Barclay's pure dead brilliant wicked stepmother Fastrada was perfect.
The show was first performed in 1972 on Broadway and although most of Steven Schwartz' songs may not be too well known in the UK, these melodic numbers have aged well. The arrangements and harmonies were gorgeous, thanks to Zach Flis and his band, very much the 11th member of the ensemble, providing excellent musical support.
You might not always have a firm grasp of what's going on but I guarantee you'll love every minute of it.
By Drew Tosh for Canal St Online