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Charing Cross Theatre

My perfect Pippin last minute theatre trip

By Megan Ross First Published 26 August 2021, Last Updated 26 August 2021

The parents are coming, the parents are coming!

I’ve known about this for a while of course, but have I planned anything? I’ll give you one guess…and you are right – no!

Not to panic, TKTS is online now so even though I’m working from home, sat in a smart shirt and below the zoom-view jogging bottoms, I can just pop on Officiallondontheatre.com and head to the TKTS on-the-day page and get tickets for tonight.

The choice is excellent (and I’m not just saying that because I work for this website), I have my pick of musicals, plays, comedies – well known titles and unknown (to me at least) new productions.

My family are theatre fans, so we’ve seen some great shows in the past. But we’ve had a year of not seeing anything so it’s a real toss up between something we know and love and something we’ve never seen before.

I decide to read more about Pippin at the Charing Cross Theatre. I’ve never been to that venue before and Pippin’s setting of the Summer of love in 1967 sounds right up my parents street. I hadn’t realised that the music was by Stephen Schwartz and as Wicked is one of my favourites, I know I’m onto a winner.

A quick watch of the trailer (below) and few clicks with my mouse and I’ve got my last minute TKTS for tonight.

Easily positioned right behind Charing Cross Station, I’ve passed 3 people in ‘The Show Must Go On‘ t-shirts in my less than 5 minute walk to the venue (full disclosure, one of those people was my Dad). So far, so easy and, talking of t-shirts, I’ve been so spontaneous with my theatre purchase for tonight I’ve turned up wearing mine back to front. Photo below for evidence.

A close-up photo showing the label of a tshirt, with it being accidentally worn back to front

Who cares how I look, it’s the summer of love where I’m going!

Mask on, tickets scanned, hands sanitised and we’re in our seats. Half ‘theatre in-the-round’, with audience seats on two sides of the room looking inwards on the performance area, we’re immediately transported to 1967 with incense burning and an array of tie-dye throws everywhere I look. Its colour and scent is lifting my mood and calming me all at the same time. I’m sold on this as an excellent choice for tonight already.

The show hasn’t even started yet but we’re quietly singing “all the leaves are brown” (with some questionable harmonies from my Dad) as California Dreamin’ plays and draws arriving audiences into the era of the setting of this version of the show.

If you don’t know the show, Pippin is the story of one young man’s journey to be extraordinary, a plot I feel a lot of people can relate to. The show began life at Carnegie Mellon University in 1967 when Schwartz’s friend, Ron Strauss, had seen a paragraph in a history textbook about the son of Charlemagne launching a revolution against his father, and begun writing a musical about the idea. Schwartz collaborated with Strauss but Strauss left the project when Schwartz decided to develop it further and the Pippin we see today is said to have no note or line kept from that original university production. 

The book, written by Roger O’Hirson, uses the premise of a mysterious performance troupe, led by the Leading Player, to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince with extraordinary dreams and aspirations on his quest to find passion, fulfilment and meaning in life. This revival of the show is set in the 60s, previous productions have varied including a circus theme for the 2013 Broadway revival. Although the characters of Pippin, the young prince and his father Charlemagne are derived from history, this musical is entirely fictional (worth noting for someone like me who learns a lot of history from shows). 

Featuring signature Schwartz songs, clever in-the-round choreography by Nick Winston (no mean feat when the original production was choreographed by the great Bob Fosse), and a incredibly talented and hard-working cast, I enjoyed the show immensely and can’t quite believe this is the first time I’m seeing it. 

Favourite moments for me in this production include a hilarious turn as Grandma by Genevieve Nicole, which had us all creasing up and a wonderful song and dance duet of On The Right Track by Ryan Anderson (as Pippin) and Ian Carlyle (as a stand-out Leading Player).  Without giving anything away – the ending was unexpected and I liked it!

To think, just hours before I’m on my feet clapping, I hadn’t got any plans for the evening at all. Thank you to TKTS for not only saving me from my poor advance parent-visit planning, but also for giving me a fantastic night I’d have missed out on otherwise. It was way better than another night on my sofa.

Book last minute or advanced tickets to Pippin, which must end 5 September. Plus, check out on-the-day deals at TKTS. What will spontaneous you see tonight?





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