Recently showcasing the popular musical Fanny and Stella, the Eagle pub’s Garden Theatre presents another lyrical performance with the musical Pippin.
Written by 4-time Grammy winner and 3-time Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz in the ’60s, this new 2020 version directed by Steven Dexter, and complete with a cast of West End performers, maintains its Summer of Love vibe, writes Carolyn Hart Taylor.
If You’re Going to San Francisco plays, burning incense fills the marquee set, tie-dyed sheets hang strewn alongside peace and love slogans, while the cast decked out in ’60s psychedelia, flared jeans and headbands, dance hypnotically. Audiences lulled by this ‘Flower Power’ ambience are soon reminded it wasn’t all Peace and Love.
Tension arrives in the form of main protagonist Pippin, (Ryan Anderson), son of King Charlemagne, whose dissatisfaction with life sends him on a mission to find his true purpose on this mortal coil.
Reminding us, ‘What I’m looking for can’t be found in books’, Pippin then impresses audiences with a heartfelt rendition of ‘Corner of the Sky’.
Aided by an adoring troupe of five groovy, hippie travellers, Pippin is able to continue expressing his angst-ridden state via sharply choreographed dance numbers and songs that indulge him on his road of self-discovery.
Pippin’s journey leads him into clashes with his war-mongering father, King Charlemagne, (Dan Krikler) who believes ‘war is a science’. After first gaining power Pippin makes some attractive laws – banning taxes and handing out land to the poor – which he later reneges on. But with a hint of smug self-obsession, he belts out an incredible version of ‘When you’re extraordinary you do extraordinary things’, singing ‘someone who is extraordinary like me’.
Embroidered into this musical tale are elements of magic, sex, murder, and intrigue, that all benefit from the casting of Joanne Clifton, winner of Strictly Come Dancing, whose confidence and versatility as an actor/dancer radiates throughout. One moment she is Pippin’s savvy mother Estrada, next, a cheeky grandma full of mischievous devilment.
Impressive singing, incredible dancing and a cast of varied characters make for a musical treat. One to see.
The Garden Theatre at The Eagle, 349 Kennington Lane, SE11 5QY until 11th October. Times: Tuesday and Wednesday at 8.00pm, Thursday at 6.00pm and 8.30pm, Friday at 7.00pm, Saturday and Sunday 3.00pm. Admission: £20.00 + booking fee.
Full details: www.gardentheatre.co.uk
Images: Bonnie Britain Photography