Entertainment doesn’t have to be substantial. The word itself doesn’t even attempt to convey any sort of weight.
But when entertainment is substantial — and let’s not even get into the “but is it art” thing, OK? — it’s imbued with the opportunity to turn into something more, to transcend “entertainment” (not that there’s anything at all wrong with “entertainment”) and become an important part of the shared cultural conversation. And usually, it’s a resonance with what it means to be human that creates that elevation.
The five-Tony-winning musical Fun Home — the first, by the way, to feature a lesbian lead — is fucking important, maybe the most important Broadway work since Angels in America. It’s a simultaneously beautiful, brutal and often hilarious look at familial relations and coming to terms with one’s own identity. It’s an empathy machine, one that forces viewers to deal with the fact that not everyone is perfect, and not everyone is the same — but that everyone is human, and everyone can (and should) relate.
So weird. So wacky. And yet, even when dealing with serious or even dark subjects, so celebratory.
freeFall Theatre’s production of the 1972 musical Pippin checks off all of those adjectives, and even manages to update some aesthetic elements of the tale to create a unique balance of that ‘70s feel and something more modern and minimalist. It might not be for everyone, but this show is definitely going to elicit a response.
freeFall’s Pippin sticks close to the plot of the original — originally directed by none other than Bob Fosse on Broadway — in its tale of the son of Charlemagne’s quest to find his place in life. It’s a long and arduous journey, to be sure, including warfare, palace intrigue, patricide, misdirection and even a lovely young widow and her equally lovely son. Will Pippin follow in the footsteps of his father to become a conqueror? Will he choose the life of the mind? Will he opt for a simpler existence, knowing what could have been, given the advantages of his lineage?