Musical Theatre in Sydney celebrates return with ‘Pippin’

The high-flying, death-defying hit Broadway musical ‘Pippin’ will open next week as the first large scale musical theatre in Australia since COVID-19.

Playing exclusively at the Sydney Lyric at The Star from 24 November 2020 to 31 January 2021 only, this show marks an incredible return to live performance. Producer John Frost commented on his excitement over the show.

“We’re so excited to bring ‘Pippin’ to the stage as the first musical following the COVID shutdown,” said Frost.

“Everyone in this sensational cast and crew is thrilled to be back at work, bringing this exhilarating musical to life and opening up Sydney musical theatre again. Sydney is ready to celebrate and what better way than heading to the Sydney Lyric to enjoy this Tony Award winning musical which has thrilled audiences across the globe. ‘Pippin’ is the must-see musical of the summer, full of magic, acrobatics and excitement – don’t miss it.”

Foundation Theatres and the Sydney Lyric have a detailed COVID Safety Plan to help keep audiences, performers and staff safe while at the theatre. Operating in accordance with the advice of NSW Health, CEO of Foundations Theatres, Graeme Kearns, spoke of the importance of protecting visitors.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of everyone who comes to our theatres,” said Kearns.

“We have detailed measures in place to assist with flow of patrons and to protect the health and hygiene of all who visit us. Our team has been working tirelessly to ensure that theatre is as safe as it can be, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the Sydney Lyric.”

The Australian Premiere of ‘Pippin’ has been secured exclusively for Sydney by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, commented on the anticipated season.

“The opening of ‘Pippin’ in Sydney is an exciting milestone, as we celebrate the return of musicals and theatre productions for the first time since the start of the pandemic,” said Ayres.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a COVID-safe night out in Sydney – book a ticket to this spectacular show, enjoy dinner at your favourite restaurant and even stay a night at a hotel in the city.  You’ll not only be treating yourself, but giving local businesses a boost.”

With a beloved score by Oscar and Grammy winner Stephen Schwartz (‘Wicked’, ‘Godspell’), ‘Pippin’ tells the story of a young man at a crossroads in his life. Does he follow in the footsteps of his father, one of the most powerful men in the land? Or does he strike out on his own, to find his own ‘corner of the sky’? Essentially a play within a play, ‘Pippin’ is told by a travelling troupe of actors and acrobats (called ‘Players’), directed by the mysterious Leading Player. Like a vaudeville act, the Players both act out the roles of the story and speak directly to the audience.

The role of the young and confused protagonist Pippin is played by Ainsley Melham, who performed the title role in ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway and across Australia. The charming and manipulative Leading Player, the ultimate ring master of the show, is Gabrielle McClinton, who played the role on Broadway and beyond. Returning to the stage after an extraordinary award-winning career on television is Kerri-Anne Kennerley who plays Berthe, Pippin’s saucy grandmother.

Simon Burke (‘Les Misérables’, ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ in London’s West End) plays Charles, Pippin’s demanding father, while Lucy Maunder (‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Beautiful’) is Catherine, a widow who falls in love with Pippin. In the role of Pippin’s conniving stepmother Fastrada is Leslie Bell (Broadway’s ‘Chicago’ and ‘Ragtime’), with Euan Doidge (‘Les Misérables’, ‘Kinky Boot’s) playing the role of her son Lewis, Pippin’s half-brother. The young actors who play the role of Theo, Catherine’s son, are Andy Alexander, George Holahan-Cantwell, William Wheeler and Ryan Yeates.

Also in the cast as Players and Swings are Danik Abishev, Olivia Carniato, Angelique Cassimatis, Bayley Edmends, Joel Granger, Chaska Halliday, Matt Jenson, Zoe Marshall, Harley McLeish, William Meager, Joe Meldrum, Amy Nightingale-Olsen, Thomas Remaili, Gretel Scarlett, Suzanne Steele, Andrew Sumner and Jessica Ward.

The new production is directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (‘Hair’, The Gershwins’ ‘Porgy and Bess’). It also features sizzling choreography by Tony Award nominee Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse and circus creation of breath-taking acrobatics by Gypsy Snider of the Montreal-based circus company Les 7 doigts de la main (also known as 7 Fingers). ‘Pippin’ features many Broadway standards including “Corner of the Sky”, “Magic To Do”, “Glory”, “No Time at All”, “Morning Glow” and “Love Song”.

‘Pippin’ features a book by Roger O. Hirson and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, music supervision by Ryan Cantwell, arrangements by Nadia DiGiallonardo, orchestrations by Tony Award® winner Larry Hochman, scenic design by Tony Award® winner Scott Pask, costume design by Dominique Lemieux, lighting design by Tony Award® winner Kenneth Posner, sound design by Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm. It comes to Australia from producers John Frost and Suzanne Jones in association with Barry and Fran Weissler, and Howard and Janet Kagan.

Hailed by the New York Times as “Astonishing. A ‘Pippin’ for the 21st century. Dazzling and awe-inspiring”, this new show is unlike anything you have ever seen before! Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Star, Matt Bekier, spoke of how thrilled he is to see the musical in Sydney.

“We are proud supporters of Sydney’s arts and entertainment industry, and thrilled to be involved in bringing the extraordinary production of ‘Pippin’ to life,” Bekier said.

“We look forward to welcoming theatre audiences back to The Star for the first time since March. We’re committed to supporting live entertainment and welcoming theatregoers to once again experience the array of world-class dining and entertainment options on offer at The Star.”

For more information about the production, please visit ‘Pippin’ The Musical’s website.  Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster with prices start at $69.90. 

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