Given the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a year devoid of musical theatre. But there is a small perk for those living in Sydney, the home of many major producers of musical and theatrical productions. Involving some of the big names in musical theatre, John Frost and Suzanne Jones will be producing an exclusive season of Pippin at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from 24 November 2020. This season will align itself to COVID-SAFE recommendations for NSW, although looking at the seating plan, this does not include spaced-out seating which may or may not worry some.
So whom is portraying each of the iconic roles? The role of the young protagonist Pippin will be played by Ainsley Melham, who many would have seen on-stage in Disney Theatrical Productions’ tour of Aladdin – The Musical which was his debut mainstage role. Filling the shoes of the charming and manipulative ring master is Gabrielle McClinton, who has previously performed the role on Broadway.
Other leading cast members include Simon Burke (Les Misérables, La Cage Aux Folles in London’s West End) as Pippin’s father, Lucy Maunder (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Beautiful) as love-interest Catherine, Leslie Bell (Broadway’s Chicago and Ragtime) as Pippin’s stepmother Fastrada, the ever-charming Euan Dodge as Pippin’s half-brother Lewis and Australian television icon Kerri-Anne Kennerley as Pippin’s saucy grandmother Berthe. Clearly when performing arts venues have had to shut their doors across the country, many big names jumped at the opportunity to take part in this production.
Also joining the cast as Players and Swings are Danik Abishev, Olivia Carniato, Angelique Cassimatis, Bayley Edmends, Joel Granger, Chaska Halliday, Matt Jenson, Zoe Marshall, Harley McLeish, William Meager, Joe Meldrum, Amy Nightingale-Olsen, Thomas Remalli, Gretel Scarlett, Suzanne Steele, Andrew Sumner and Jessica Ward.
With an original score by Stephen Schwartz, the brains behind other musicals including Wicked and Godspell, Pippin tells the story of a young man at a crossroads in his life. Does he follow in the footsteps of his father, one of the most powerful men in the land? Or does he strike out on his own, to find his own ‘corner of the sky’? PIPPIN is a play within a play. The story is told by a travelling troupe of actors and acrobats (called ‘Players’), directed by the mysterious Leading Player. Like a vaudeville act, the Players both act out the roles of the story and speak directly to the audience.
At this time, this season of Pippin is confirmed to run from 24 November 2020 until at least 3 January 2021, with tickets available from $69.00 AUD each.
You can read statements from key stakeholders in bringing Pippin to Sydney on the next page.