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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Pippin stuns in Southwark

The show must go on. Round of applause to the cast of Pippin at the Southwark Playhouse who fought through technical difficulties to give a stunning show this evening.

S and I headed to the theatre with little - or in my case no - knowledge of Pippin as a work. It's by Stephen Schwartz and does not get the press of his better-known works like Wicked. The story, told through the medium of a troop of performers, follows the story of Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, while taking some hefty doses of artistic licence to create a beautiful show.

It is a small cast but each and every one of them was excellent. I am going to give special mention to Genevieve Nicole who absolutely stars as the leading player and was, by the end of the evening S's new "girl crush" - her words, not mine.

The choreo was slick, the singing was strong and the story carried through and across very well. It is an important aspect with a show such as Pippin which blurs the lines of fantasy and reality. The characters not only break the fourth wall with the audience but also within their own play-within-a-play motif. But even as actors playing actors blended into the characters they were portraying there was never really a moment when you sat up and said "what is going on here then?" We were with them throughout.

That in itself is a testament to the professionalism and talent of the cast on stage as they battled with not one, but three show stops.

We were there on the second night and the first sign of a problem was when a map which was supposed to appear as a backdrop got stuck. Rhidian Marc, playing Charlemagne, soldiered on masterfully despite his stage moustache making a bid for freedom as he sang the song. But halfway through the song a wire and box fell from above and moments later the aforementioned 'tache gave up and fluttered to the floor.

The cast finished the song expertly - albeit through a few smirks - but as they concluded the stage manager made an appearance and said they would have to stop to fix the problem with the backdrop.

The cast stepped off and returned moments later to pick the show up. The true moment of genius appeared when, as Nicole and Jonathan Carlton as Pippin were beginning to sing Simple Joys, the show was interrupted by some sort of feedback. The cast nipped off, the problem was fixed and they popped back only for it to recur. In a moment which will live as one of my favourite live theatre experiences, the cast launched into an acoustic version of the number, complete with dance routines without backing, which were being counted out between the troupe live on stage.

The show was soon up and running again and we got the full version of Simple Joys followed by a problem-free rest of the show, but for those moments I give the whole cast, band and crew a standing ovation. And that is exactly what they quite rightly got when the curtain finally fell.

If you're in London before March 24 I heartily suggest getting across to Southwark to see it.

Photos from the Pippin Facebook page

#theatre #musical #review

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