PIPPIN is a fun-filled and delightful musical about a troupe of players re-enacting the historic life of Pippin in the kingdom of Charlemagne. Moreover, it is a story of a young man finding his way in the world and trying to do something extraordinary with his life. He has grown up with all the privileges money can buy, but has no idea what he wants to do. His expectations are so incredibly high, that nothing he tries can ever measure up to his dreams.
Stephen Schwartz’s music and lyrics are really lovely and I certainly have my favourites e.g. "Corner of the Sky" and "Morning Glow." Notwithstanding the brilliant music, this show was certainly a major benchmark for Bob Fosse, one of the most respected directors and choreographers, who received FIVE Tony Awards for the show!
So, with this extraordinarily talented creative team being responsible to put together a glorious work, we also have an extremely talented team at MLOC, doing the same:
Musical Director – Danny Forward
TP: Danny, you are possibly the busiest musician in Melbourne’s amateur theatre world at the moment with, what is it, 21 consecutive days of rehearsals and performances? That’s massive!
DF: Yes, it’s been a pretty hectic few weeks even by my standards, juggling PIPPIN cast and orchestra rehearsals, CLOC’s FIDDLER ON THE ROOF performances, and unexpectedly having to squeeze in time for Fab Nobs’ WE WERE ROBBED concert as ‘the band’. But hey, it’s what I do… and what I love!
TP: PIPPIN is a glorious production and I know your enthusiasm and passion. Tell me a bit about the musical ‘magic’ you are creating with this production.
DF: I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen Schwartz. GODSPELL was the first show I played at high school and I then went on to direct it at uni. I even had the opportunity to do ‘dinner and a show’ with the great man himself when I lived in London. The score to PIPPIN is so rich, eclectic, and beautifully orchestrated. The diversity of musical styles really hit home to me once again at our orchestra rehearsals – rock, pop, country, classical, as well as some legit Broadway toe-tappers. And the music rarely stops – PIPPIN is segue-city! If the cast aren’t singing and dancing, they’re talking over underscoring. And, as you know, I’m a sucker for big ensemble sounds so I’ve tweaked a few of the harmonies… and, of course, thrown in a few more for good measure. As gorgeous as the solos and duets are, my favourite numbers are the biggies – "Magic To Do," "Glory," "Morning Glow," and the finale.
TP: Please elaborate on some cast and the magic they bring to their respective roles.
DF: Drue Goodwin was the very last person we auditioned and we knew immediately we had found our Pippin. Drue will be unknown to most Melbourne theatre folk, hailing originally from WA, but he is certainly one to look out for in the future – a fine actor with a glorious voice… and a jolly nice chap to boot! And MLOC stalwart John Davidson is in his ‘Mr Cabaret’ element as the Leading Player. Between the two of them, they have the responsibility of carrying the bulk of the show but it is comforting for us to know it is in good hands and they are more than ably supported (and often upstaged!) by their supporting players – a fantastic ensemble and a stunning orchestra.
TP: What’s next for Danny Forward? A bit of a rest OR full throttle to the next project?
DF: Pfft! Rest is for wimps! In the week after PIPPIN closes I’m playing for CLOC’s ASPECTS OF LOVE auditions and callbacks, orchestra rehearsals and sitzprobe for PLOS’s CATS and have Information Night for MLOC’s next production, CAMELOT, which I am again MDing.
Choreographer – Lyn Laister
TP: PIPPIN is a great piece of Schwartz’s music, the stage production in the '80s was particularly known by the amazing Bob Fosse and his incredible choreography. Did you try and replicate much of Fossey’s style or is this a totally new vision?
LL: I never try to replicate another choreographer’s style. Fossey has his own enigmatic style and for a choreographer to pretend to have his style, means they are not really a choreographer in their own right. One can be influenced by other choreographers and still stay true to their own style. I usually try to not to look at other versions of the show when doing my choreography. I always strive to use the strengths of my cast’s existing talent to create an outstanding show. When I choreograph, I allow the music to take me on a creative journey and move in a way that feels ‘right’ for the piece. I love the music of Pippin, so it was a joy to do each different number, whether it be comedy, romantic or jazz in nature.
TP: When you directed and choreographed CATS with MLOC, for which you very deservedly received a Guild Judges Award, a couple of years ago, you were also on stage. With PIPPIN, you are once again the Director and Choreographer. Will we be seeing you strutting your PIPPIN magic on the stage again?
LL: As much as I love being on stage, I decided after CATS, that it was far too physically exhausting to have all three hats. So, I won’t be treading the boards this time. Directing and choreographing for this show has been challenge enough for me.
TP: Having had lots of fun personally working with you in previous productions with different companies, and having also performed in Pippin just over 12 months ago, I know that Pippin is quite a different project to, say, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. There is certainly lots of magic to do and frankly I fell in love with the Pippin music and the message. Can you tell me about the MLOC magic you are going to give us with this production?
LL: Quite early in our rehearsals, we had an actual magician come along. He taught us some tricks to use. Consequently we have 'magic' from the outset, with our Leading Player (John Davidson) performing some magic, magical moving stairs, disappearing players, talking heads and a few other tricks up our sleeve (pun intended). Pippin is also a very funny musical with a lot of double entendres to amuse the audience, which also also allows us to verge on some Monty Python type humour. The cast do a great job!
MLOC Productions proudly presents
17 – 25 June at the Phoenix Theatre, 101 Glenhuntly Rd., Elwood
Director/Choreographer: Lyn Laister
Musical Director: Danny Forward
Assistant Choreographer: Leah Osburn
Friday, June 17 at 8pm (Gala Supper Opening Night)
Saturday, June 18 at 8pm
Sunday, June 19 at 5pm
Thursday, June 23 at 8pm
Friday, June 24 at 8pm
Saturday, June 25 at 2pm
Saturday, June 25 at 8pm
Tickets: $30 Adults, $27 Concession, $25 Children. Group discounts available. (additional $8 per person for Gala Opening Night supper)
Pippin – Drue Goodwin
Leading Player – John Davidson
Charles –Lee Pezzimenti
Fastrada- Helen Giannakis
Berthe – Danika Alt
Catherine –Amy Anderson
Lewis – Daniel O'Donoghue
Theo – Chris Burgess
Baron – TBA
Hangman – Andrew Weatherhead
Field Marshall – Paul Ash
Head (In Battle scene) – Glenn Bramich
Courier 1, Female dance Captain – Ebony Richardson
Headless man, Male dance captain – Keir Jasper
Brigid is a seasoned performer with over 26 years’ stage experience in both professional and amateur productions. Brigid studied classical piano and classical voice for many years and there is no doubt she loves performing.
Brigid completed a NIDA acting short course in 2010 and some of her professional performing highlights include playing the role of Mildred in the Australian 2003 professional premiere of Sondheim’s Saturday Night, and singing the role of Ann McCubbin in the Australian cast recording of McCubbin.
Brigid has been nominated for both Music Theatre Guild Award awards and Lyrebird awards and proudly has a Lyrebird Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd sitting on her mantelpiece.