Last weekend, I saw the Broadway touring revival of this fictitious musical about the turning point in the life of King Charlemagne’s favorite son. The Tony Award winning production combined the dancing flair of the legendary Bob Fosse with inspiration from Cirque du Soleil. Acrobatics flew across the stage and contortionists performed body-defying tricks while the story unfolded through song and dance.
Pippin proclaimed, “We have to dedicate ourselves to a better world for all people.” But for most of the play he went about attempting to “better the world” in all the wrong ways as he sought glitz and glamour. In the end, Pippin learned that he was the happiest when he was with someone he loved, regardless of how simple his life was.
I loved the dancing, singing, and circus razzle-dazzle in this production. I was awed by the turn-of-the-century Paramount Theater where I saw it. But I found many elements of the storyline disturbing. I am not a Catholic, but the anti-Catholic content, frivolous attitude toward life, and cavalier take on death were unsettling. I assume this was done to make a point, but I think there are better ways to do that. Maybe this is because today we are facing serious life-and-death issues. I think we need to make a serious effort to understand each other’s beliefs in trying to solve them—and that when we have extraordinary opportunities to affect the course of history, as Pippin did, we also have extraordinary responsibilities to use them for good.