Friday, July 21, 2006

Coeur d'Alene Theater review - PIPPIN

It was a dark and stormy night. -Oops, wrong template. Yesterday I received the distress call that all was not well on the home front. The character of the kids seemed to fall inversely to the direction of the thermometer. Sassing, bickering, selective deafness; the mayday was clear, Mom was stressed!

Solution: A night out was in overdue. So after putting in a rally cry to all the guardian angels of my family, I called the local theater to book some tickets. I had seen a review (promotion, more like it as they were also the sponsors of the show.) in the Spokesman Review that morning. Just what I was looking for, something different from the usual meal and walk that had become the routine.

So after a hurried appetizer and desert we set off to see Pippin at the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater. As it so happened we should have taken our time at supper because the night ended in two walks. The first was the walk-out before intermission on a crass and poorly done show. The second was a nice walk around the boardwalk at the resort.


The opening set the tone that even the tone deaf could tell was off-key. As the cast ran onto stage for the opening number, I was hoping that they weren't part of the play. I was wrong. Most were dressed in revealing black lingerie and looked the part of tramps. And that was just the guys. Through out the time we stayed, this group of "extras" continually wore less and less.

As the review had mentioned and as first scene set in, the "modern-twist" on the play was evident. King Charlemagne walked on stage talking obnoxiously on a cell phone. This twist did lend itself to some humorous points, Charlemagne's use of the projector screen and laser pointer brought plenty of laughter. But the slideshow of war pictures from knights to tanks to a third-world child holding a rifle was distracting. There was a song and dance number going on at the same time as the long slide show, many of the pictures were of poor definition and it ended with the bizarre dancing icon of a cross spinning around a prone scimitar. Then the scene with the grandmother of Pippin was even worse. The grandmother, played by Ellen Travolta, tried to get the crowd to sing the chorus of her number helped by the words on the projector screen. It was lame by any attempt and further hindered by the timing being off.

There was a definite "blame all the worlds ills on Christianity" to the play. But as this was obvious and blatant, I could have enjoyed the play if there was something to enjoy. But with few redeeming artistic qualities, there was little to stay for. I was thankful to note that a few of the anti-Christian jabs didn't bring the laughter they cast was expecting.

Being a man of high culture and vast knowledge of the arts, (sarcasm alert) it was easy to be more offended by the poor choreography and dancing. The dancers seems un-natural and lacked any grace. I think it may have been the heavy reliance on hip thrusting and the focus on trampiness. But as my wife pointed out, when the guys have more movement in their hips than the ladies, the play is in trouble.

We weren't the first to walk out and neither were we the last. As one couple and another elderly lady left shortly into the an early scene, my wife asked, "Well?" as if to see if we were leaving also. I replied that we might as well stick it out as surely "It can only go up from here." But I was wrong.

There was one bright spot in the limited viewing we had. The lead actor who played Pippen, the son of Charlemagne, almost rescued a few scenes. His energy and commitment to the role was engaging. His voice was good bordering on very good. But he was not enough to rescue the whole mess.

Aside from the anti-Christian theme, the ever revealing costume, the poor choreography, the un-natural and graceless dancing and constant use of the projector screen; aside from all that, the show was just ... awful.

But the night did end with a bit of cheer. We asked and were given vouchers for a different play that is coming up in a few weeks.

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