After watching Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory in December I knew immediately that this wasn’t going to be my only time seeing the show. I’ve always liked the Chocolate Factory. It’s such a lovely little venue and so far their productions have never disappointed me. And Pippin turned out to be no difference.
I admit I was a bit disappointed when I entered the bar before the show and was greeted with an understudy notice informing me that the part of Leading Player would be played by Bob Harms at this performance. Matt Rawle was one of my highlights of the show when I saw it back in December after all and I remembered from that Gypsy Kings best of show (also known as Zorro – the musical) that he often is the most vital part of any production he is in.
But as fantastic as his performance in Pippin is I can honestly say I didn’t miss him one bit at this matinee. The moment Bob Harms stepped on stage he had me glued to my seat. His Leading Player was charismatic, gripping and just plain cool. I would never have guessed it was his very first time in the role. So thumbs up for Bob! If you get the chance to catch him as Leading Player you can consider yourself lucky.
Harry Hepple gave another brilliant performance as Pippin. Such a lovely voice and he portrays Pippin’s search for meaning in the most perfect way. I feel for his Pippin. I enjoy coming along on his journey from level to level and I want him to succeed in becoming an outstanding person.
Stuart Neal always manages to catch my eye and I would love to see his take on Pippin. Having said that I’m sure I’d miss seeing him as Theo on that occasion.
David Page is just perfect as Pippin’s rather shallow brother Lewis. That does sound a bit wrong so I should clarify that David is obviously not only a great dancer but also a fantastic actor. Speaking to him after the performance made it very clear that he is in no way vain or self absorbed but totally lovely and down to earth.
Holly James once again had me in awe – she is so stunningly beautiful and one of the most expressive dancers around. I could watch her dancing all day without getting bored.
France Ruffelle still didn’t impress me but as I’ve stated before it’ probably just one of those cases of “We don’t click”. She’s got a good voice and I know lots of people enjoy seeing her on stage and love her performance in Pippin.
I can see why Pippin isn’t one of the shows that are put on regularly. The show is not typical mainstream and I can imagine it wouldn’t necessarily appeal to someone who is not really into theatre but just goes to see a show once in a while.
But still, the show shouldn’t be put back in the closet for ages once the run at the Chocolate Factory is over. Pippin is a well written piece of theatre with a fantastic score and (something not all shows have these days) a message. It’s a story about finding yourself, a story about becoming someone extraordinary without being corrupted.
So please do yourself a favour and go see this fantastic production of a show that deserves to be noticed amongst the common main stream shows of today.
Pippin is on at the Menier Chocolate Factory until February 25.