What You Need To Know About Broadway’s New ‘Pippin’ Revival

We all want to live an extraordinary life. It’s challenging when things like taxes, delayed subway trains, and burnt coffee exist, but we try. Starting March 23rd, Broadway’s 31st longest-running show Pippin is returning to Broadway since its 1977 close, and bringing with it a whole new surge of inspiration to live an extraordinary life – which means you’re totally not off the hook this year. Having just returned from the open press rehearsal, here are a couple of things to  know about the show ahead of time.

1. Since Stephen Schwartz (composer/lyricist of Wicked) is the man behind Pippin’s music, please do expect to walk in already knowing the show’s ‘70s pop anthem “Corner Of The Sky,” and/or singing it on your way out.

2. Pippin, played by Matthew James Thomas (former Spider-Man in Turn Off the Dark), resembles a bit of a 20-something, very attractive Peter Pan, which is slightly disconcerting, but somehow condoned when he sings and takes his shirt off.

3. The dance moves choreographed by the show’s original director/legend Bob Fosse are well-preserved and impeccably performed by the animated Patina Miller (starred in Sister Act), who’s the show’s "Leading Player" character.

4. Since the title character’s quest for an extraordinary life is told by a performance troupe, you will see lots of the following: dancers doing flips through hula hoops, human pyramids, Patina swaying across the stage mid-hula hooping, and impossibly-toned abs.

Previews begin March 23rd at the Music Box Theatre. Pippin opens April 25th.

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New York’s Top Halloween Parties

All dressed up with no place to go? (Gasp!) That just might be one of the scariest things to happen this Halloween. This is your one chance to be someone you’re not, so you better get your partially-exposed butt and painted face out there to a party. Looking to hook up, get high, dance like mad, or party like a sophisticate? Then check out our list of New York’s top Halloween parties in 2012. They all have in common one thing: OPEN BAR. So go! Drink! Flirt! Dance! And completely become that which you are not – for a night.

Blair Underwood’s Explosive Turn in Broadway’s ‘Streetcar’

Blair Underwood is making theater history. Sixty-five years after A Streetcar Named Desire first debuted on Broadway, the Grammy Award-winning actor assumes the iconic role of Stanley in the show’s first multicultural production to ever hit the Great White Way. And if you recognize that face (and that body) from his roles on such TV shows as Sex and the City, L.A. Law, and In Treatment, you might need some time to adjust to his portrayal of a character he describes as "a very different animal." Here, Underwood discusses Stanley’s volcanic nature, his passion for theater, and his new clothing line.

After you wake up in the morning and head to the theater, how do you crawl into the role of Stanley?
That’s a great question. I think I jump into him instead of ease into him. It’s like a switch, which is very consistent with him. He’s impulsive, sexual, volcanic, erupting. His energy and spirit is so different from mine; I’m more laidback, and Stanley’s a life force. It’s about getting into his thought process, which is very cut and dry. It’s very 1940s male; he plays poker, hangs out with the guys, believes in male and female roles. He’s incredibly complicated yet simplistic – it’s what makes him so fascinating to play.

Describe his relationship with “STELLA!!!”
That famous scene is what it’s all about. Their relationship is beyond love – it’s profound necessity. He’s a man-child: strong and violent, yet vulnerable and needy. The idea of her leaving him is something he can’t even compute. It’s not just “Stella, come down. I want to see you.” It’s, “Stella, I can’t live without you.” You see this man beat his pregnant wife, and then you see him fall to his knees and beg her to come back. It’s juicy stuff.

When was your first exposure to Streetcar
I had read the play in college and seen the movie, and remember being struck by how different Marlon Brando’s acting was from Vivien Leigh. Brando’s acting was so naturalistic and raw and violent, whereas Vivien Leigh’s was so stylized, straight from the British school of theater. Not only do the two characters clash, but so their acting styles. I think it’s one of the reasons people were so impressed and blown away by Marlon Brando’s performance; in 1947, that style of acting had never been seen on stage before. He brought that whole method style of acting to America.

How did you become a part of this production?
Four years ago, the show’s producers did Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with an African American cast. I very much wanted to be a part of that production, but it wasn’t meant to be. I remember coming to see the production, and I met one of the producers in the lobby, and I jokingly said, “You know I wanted to be in this!” and he said, “I know, but I control the theatrical and film rights to Tennessee Williams’ estate, and I’d like to doStreetcar sometime down the road – we should talk.” Years later, we started having conversations about it. And here’s the irony of this: our performance of Streetcar is debuting in the exact same theater as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – the Broadhurst. To remember that place, in that lobby where we had that first conversation – it’s a blessing.

What’s your greatest challenge in taking on one of theater’s most coveted and well-known roles?
Not allowing other people’s memory of any particular performance of Stanley color what I do.  Instead of trying to reach for the stars and imitate what someone has done, I’m creating my own separate mind of the character and that character’s reality at this time in 2012, not 1947.

I read that theater has always been your first love, yet you’ve had such a prolific TV and film career. What do you love so much about theater?
We control it. You’re on that stage and in that moment. When you watch things on TV and film, they were acted months, years ago. In theater, it’s all happening right there, right now and it’s dangerous. You live a character for two hours, and the audience is a part of it. In film, an editor controls you. If you want to take a beat for 10 seconds to make a point, that editor makes it three seconds, which creates a completely different intent. On stage, you have the control.

Your clothing line recently debuted. How would you describe your collection?
It’s exclusively suits and ties for now, and sold at K&G. They’re quality and affordable men’s wear. That’s the whole MO. The most expensive suit is $199, but it’s quality, and everybody who’s had them has been very happy with them.

Would Stanley wear them?
No… actually, he would. They’re in his price range!

Blair Underwood