Paul Cook is a man with ideas, and he also has a very good track record directing musicals. His recent attempt with Circle Players to bring Stephen Sondheim's Company into the 21st century was met with mixed results, but Cook's staging of that show exhibited smarts and a welcome experimental spirit. He's at it again with this reworking of yet another '70s Broadway hit. Stephen Schwartz's Pippin, which dates from 1972, was the follow-up to the composer's very popular Godspell, and represents the high-water mark of the early career of a man who would take 30 more years to return to major status as a show composer with Wicked.
Originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, Pippin tells the tale of the son of Charlemagne, with vaudeville and songs relating stories about war and death in the Middle Ages. Cook, along with his artistic team — designers Nathan Hamilton and Lynda Cameron Bayer — has moved the milieu to a traditional American circus, a concept that he hopes will lend itself to something other than a mere re-creation of the Fosse version. This challenging effort features BRT newcomer Josh Lowery in the title role, plus the versatile Billy Ditty as the circus ringmaster. W. Scott Stewart, Reischa Feuerbacher, Greg Richards, Dan McGeachy, Rosemary Fossee and Hayden Gill also appear in key roles, joined by an ensemble of strong supporting players that includes Corrie Miller and Jennifer Whitcomb-Olivia. This one shapes up as a major piece of summer musical fare.