Manuel here bringing some exciting news for us musical junkies.
We've got magic to do... Just for you
It seems we have another big screen Broadway adaptation coming our way courtesy of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, a pair of producers who have almost single-handedly kept the screen musical alive. NBC’s Sound of Music Live? Zadan & Meron! Oscar-winning Chicago, SAG-nominated Hairspray and Emmy-nominee Smash? Yep, you guessed it: Zadan & Meron! They are even responsible for some of the less celebrated attempts at live action adaptations of Broadway musicals, from the swiftly forgotten 2003 adaptation of The Music Man featuring Matthew Broderick and the Kathy Bates-led 1999 Annie to the Bette Midler TV adaptation of Gypsy back in 1993.
Needless to say, they’re invested in this genre in ways not many other producers are. We can argue about their batting average. For every attempt at ‘modernizing’ a piece to its very detriment -- see 2011’s Footloose, there’s an ill-fated attempt at old-fashioned family entertainment like this year’s Peter Pan Live! Which brings us back to Pippin, the 1972 Stephen Schwartz penned musical loosely based on Pippin and his father Charlemagne, whose circus-inspired Broadway revival is set to close this weekend and which Zadan and Meron are bringing to the big screen soon.
Delighted musicals did strong b.o. this season because our next feature musical is Stephen Schwartz's PIPPIN which we produce for Weinstein.— Craig Zadan (@craigzadan) December 29, 2014
I’m curious as to who they nab for directing (though maybe more importantly for screenwriting duties). This is a clearly stage-bound piece: the conceit is that what we see on stage is a number of players acting out the story of Pippin as, in true 1970s fashion, he tries to “find himself.” The original production was directed by Bob Fosse, so these are definitely big shoes to fill. More for our amusement though, this offers up the chance to play casting directors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, I’ve broken down the main characters below from the casting call the American Repertory Theatre used to cast the revival.
PIPPIN- male, 18-26. The son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, Pippin has returned from university to discover that he does not know what to do with his life. He searches for something in his life to be fulfilling, while the Leading Player and the troupe of players guide and manipulate him. Tenor.
LEADING PLAYER- (Can be male or female)- Dangerous, charismatic, extremely charming and seductive, the Leading Player is the leader of the troupe and the mastermind behind Pippin's journey. The Leading Player must be an incredibly strong performer with the willingness to take risks and dig deep and dark; a powerful presence. Male: Tenor, Female: Alto/Mezzo with a strong belt.
CHARLEMAGNE-male, late 40s-early 60s, Pippin’s father and the King of the Holy Roman Empire. He rules the empire with an iron fist, and his focus on the battlefield inspires Pippin to try becoming a soldier. Legit Baritone.
FASTRADA female, early 40s-early 50s, Pippin’s stepmother, Charlemagne’s wife, and Lewis’s mother. A manipulative woman with sexual appeal and a strong desire for power, Fastrada aims to get her son Lewis to be first in line to the throne. Dancer.
LEWIS-male, early 20s-early 30s, The son of Charlemagne and Fastrada, Pippin’s half brother. He is a soldier in Charlemagne's army and he prides himself on his athleticism and physical prowess.
BERTHE-female, early 60s-80s. Pippin’s grandmother, and Charlemagne’s mother. An incredibly spunky older woman with excellent comedic timing, Berthe leaves the kingdom to enjoy the "simple joys" of life. Alto.
CATHERINE-female, late 20s-early 30s. Pippin’s love interest, a tragically widowed farmer’s wife with a young son. She rebels against the Leading Player's scheme by actually falling in love with Pippin. She is kind, generous, romantic, and strong-willed. Mezzo with a strong mix.
Who would you cast for each? I'm hoping they don't offer Berthe to Meryl, if only because I want Andrea Martin to reprise her Tony winning role on screen. Does news of Pippin the big screen treatment fill you with, as Nat mentioned in his Into the Woods review, a hesitation “between devastating disappointment and ecstatic pleasure”?