Book by Roger O. Hirson and Bob Fosse (uncredited). Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. The original Broadway production opened on 23 October 1972 and was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. The production closed on 12 June 1977, running for a total of 1 944 performances.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
The show begins with the Leading Player and the other players (an acting troupe) inviting the audience to watch their Magic as they help to tell the story (MAGIC TO DO). They then introduce Pippin, the son of King Charlemagne, as a young man just out of a university. He tells us how he is searching for the meaning of his life (CORNER OF THE SKY).
Pippin’s father welcomes him home from school (WELCOME HOME). Pippin tells his father he wants to go to war with him. His father eventually agrees with him and we soon see them and some soldiers learning their battleplan (WAR IS A SCIENCE). The leading player reflects upon the virtues of war and about King Charles’ victory. The soldiers join him in “saluting” their King (GLORY).
The leading player proposes that people need some small amount of happiness in life that wealth and fame can’t bring you (SIMPLE JOYS). By now, Pippin has decided that being a war hero is not what he wants to do with his life. So, he goes to his grandmother, Bertha, and asks her what she thinks he should do. She tells him to just live life to the fullest and to enjoy his youth because time goes by so fast(NO TIME AT ALL). Pippin next looks to women to see if they are the answer to his life. He experiments with sex – symbolically, of course – (WITH YOU). The act ends with Pippin deciding to lead a revolution against his father.
After this we see Pippin’s step-mother, Fastrada, as she plots to get her son, Lewis, to be the heir to the throne instead of Pippin (SPREAD A LITTLE SUNSHINE). Pippin is now trying out a political life, revolting against his father and considering assassinating him. When he does do this and becomes the new King he decides that a peaceful time, without war and slavery, is long overdue (MORNING GLOW). When he realizes that this isn’t the right job for him, he prays to have his father return. The leading player magically brings King Charles back to life.
Pippin is by now very distraught about his failing search for a meaning to his life. The leading player tells him not to worry, he’s on the right road to finding what he is looking for (ON THE RIGHT TRACK). When Pippin collapses, a pretty young woman, Catherine, finds him (THERE HE WAS) and brings him to her house with her small son. She tells him that she is just an “average” girl (KIND OF WOMAN). Pippin comes to live in her house and do household chores which he finds degrading because he thinks he is above that kind of work. (EXTRAORDINARY). But Pippin begins to enjoy family life, bonding with Catherine’s son, Theo, when his pet dies (PRAYER FOR A DUCK). Catherine and Pippin fall in love (LOVE SONG). Still, when Catherine asks Pippin to become “the head of the household”, he runs away. Catherine laments his disappearance(I GUESS I’LL MISS THE MAN).
Now, Pippin has come to the end of the road and has no idea what to do next. The Leading Player tells him that the only way that he will be remembered now is if he kills himself – a perfect FINALE to his life. Pippin is reluctant because he knows that if it is the wrong thing to do, then it will be too late for him to do anything else. The Leading Player, Fastrada and all the other players urge Pippin to go ahead. He is almost convinced when Catherine and her son step forward from the troupe of players. Pippin realizes that he was most happy with them and that he will settle for love, “trapped, but happy” (MAGIC SHOWS AND MIRACLES). An optional, additional epilogue has been added to the show: after Pippin avers his contentment with a simple life with Catherine, Theo begins to wonder how his life may be fulfilled (CORNER OF THE SKY – REPRISE). The Leading Player and his troupe, who had apologized to the audience for their inability to provide a flashy finale and stormed off, return to begin work on their new project.
Purchases from Amazon.com
From left to right above: 1. Pippin 1972 Original Broadway Cast Recording. 2. Pippin Karaoke Recording. 3. Pippin DVD of Bob Fosse’s production. 4 Pippin Complete Vocal Score. 5. Pippin Vocal Selections.