Magic To Do: Pippin’s Fantastic, Fraught Journey to Broadway and Beyond

Applause Bks. Nov. 2022. 192p. ISBN 9781493064359. $26.95. THEATER
Theater critic Gardner marks the 50th anniversary of Pippin with a deep dive into the Broadway musical’s creation, adapted from the story of Charlemagne’s son, and his quest for an extraordinary life. Gardner traces the various transformations that Pippin has undergone, with frank reflections from the surviving original team, which lay bare the joys and challenges of making the show. Musical theatre aficionados will delight in the name dropping and candid behind-the-scenes stories. Where the book shines is in locating Pippin in its contemporary cultural and political moment, not only within the archives of musical theater history, but alongside the rise of Motown and Black popular music of the 1970s. The book also explores how issues like the Vietnam War and Nixon politics fed the show and its audiences. With revivals reimagined over the decades—lines rewritten, scenes added or altered, casting bent to be more inclusive, and settings in entirely new locations—the musical’s legacy underlines how the show’s inherent fluidity is its most enduring appeal.
VERDICT An intimate and insightful addition for die-hard fans of Pippin, musical theater, and pop culture history.
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