Pippin leaps into London's well loved musicals

“Well I’ll sing you the story of a sorrowful lad
He had everything he wanted, didn’t want what he had.” 
Leading Player

Ryan Anderson as Pippin - Photo: Bonnie Britain

In the miniature Garden Theatre at The Eagle comes a huge show of vitality, song and dance. Pippin‘s score was written by Stephen Schwartz of Wicked fame. Schwartz gave his permission for this boutique musical version of Pippin at Vauxhall with a talented ensemble cast of just six.  Entering the theatre with the audience sitting on both sides of the set is like walking into a fairy tale setting, plants, flowers and fairy lights, and a cast dressed as hippies from the 1970s.

Pippin (Ryan Anderson) is the wide eyed ingenue, the elder son of the king of Christendom, Charlemagne (Dan Krikler). While it is his birth right to inherit his father’s Frankish kingdom, the young prince Pippin expresses his need to discover his own space,

“I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free / Got to find my corner of the sky”. Pippin wants to achieve something truly extraordinary. 

Pippin’s first exploit is into the theatre of war. Whereas Pippin’s younger half brother Lewis (Harry Francis) is all laddish conceit and physicality, Pippin is into the world of books. The arch enemy are the Visigoths and somehow this cast of six recreate a battle. “Glory” is the exciting music for the war briefing song with its compulsive, jazzy beat. 

The Leading Player (Tsemaye Bob-Egbe) gives this song of “Battles, Barbarous, and Bloody” the full force of her magnificent voice. But war doesn’t row Pippin’s boat and in “Simple Joys” we feel his striving for the unobtainable, “Well I’ll sing you the story of a sorrowful lad / He had everything he wanted, didn’t want what he had.” 

It is his wise old grandmother, Bertha (Strictly Come Dancing Winner from 2016, Joanne Clifton) who with a hat, a shawl and a crotchety walk conveys old age and gives Pippin some amusing and comic, scene stealing perspective on what opportunities are there for young princes. Pippin takes her advice to live a little but his sexual dalliances don’t ultimately satisfy. 

Harry Francis as Lewis and Joanne Clifton as Fastrada - Photo: Bonnie Britain

Joanne Clifton again comes into her own as Fastrada, Charlemagne’s second wife when, in order to advance her own son Lewis, she plots against Charlemagne and Pippin. Spurred on by Fastrada and standing against his father’s tyranny of cruelty to the peasants, Pippin kills his father and takes on the crown, a delightful, improvised costume touch of a tambourine. 

We can feel the political ideals of the 1960s in Pippin’s new rule, the peasants to own the land they cultivate, an end to taxes but when money is needed to pay the army to defend his empire against the Visigoths, thank goodness the Leading Player can rectify the situation and release Pippin from royal duties. 

The second act is less thrilling than the first but the opening duet between the Leading Player and Pippin, “On The Right Track” sees Pippin’s extravagant dance with thrilling acrobatic moves. Nick Winston is the gifted choreographer. “Keep cool as custard” says the Leading Player.   

Pippin meets the beautiful widow Catherine (Tanisha-Mae Brown) but his life supporting her in mending things on the estate soon ceases to please Pippin in his quest for the extraordinary.
I won’t tell you how the extraordinary opportunity is offered to Pippin but it is a dark and odd moment almost concluding the musical. 

Steven Dexter has achieved the remarkable, an extraordinarily quirky show on a limited budget and complying with measures for social distancing and covid precautions. Schwartz’s tunes and Winston’s choreography are outstanding. Again, The Garden Theatre celebrates the art of the possible in these times of pandemic!

Musical Numbers

Act One

Magic to Do

Corner of the Sky


Simple Joys

No Time at All

With You

Spread a Little Sunshine

Morning Glow

Act Two

On the Right Track

There He Was

Kind of Woman


Love Song

I Guess I’ll Miss the Man


Production Notes

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by David Hirson

Directed by Steven Dexter



Ryan Anderson

Tsemaye Bob-Egbe

Tanisha Mae-Brown

Joanne Clifton

Harry Francis

Dan Krikler


Director: Steven Dexter

Choreographer: Nick Winston

Designer: David Shields

Musical Director: Michael Bradley


Running Time: One hour 30 minutes with a five minute break

Closed on 17th October 2020


The Garden Theatre at The Eagle

349 Kennington Lane

London SE11 5QY

Tube: Vauxhall

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the Garden Theatre on
18th September 2020