‘Pippin’ pops to Broadway

Paulus' musical revival will open in the spring

Diane Paulus’ revival of “Pippin” has found its corner of the Rialto, with the production — which opened Thursday at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. — booking a spring slot at Broadway’s Music Box Theater.

“Chicago” producers Barry and Fran Weissler team with a pair of spouses newer to the legit scene, Howard and Janet Kagan (“The Anarchist,” the upcoming “Hands on a Hardbody”) for the commercial run of the tuner, a legit staple that hasn’t been revived on the Main Stem since the original 1972 preem, which scored five Tonys and ran for more than 4 1/2 years.

Producers pulled the trigger on the move without waiting for reviews of the show, which began previews at A.R.T. Dec. 5. Notices begin to hit press outlets Jan. 4.

Barry Weissler has talked up a potential Paulus-led “Pippin” for a couple of years now, with the Kagans coming aboard in recent months. The director also is the a.d. of regional nonprofit A.R.T., the production’s tryout venue.

Paulus has become one of Broadway’s most prominent directors of musical revivals, after her staging of “Hair” took home the revival Tony in 2009 and her revisionist take on “Porgy and Bess” scored the same award last season.

The new incarnation of “Pippin” incorporates circus elements created by Gypsy Snider of Montreal cirque troupe Les 7 Doights de la Main (7 Fingers), whose show “Traces” ran for more than a year Off Broadway. Chet Walker choreographs in the style of Bob Fosse, helmer and choreographer of the original production.

With a book by T.V. scribe Roger O. Hirson and music by Stephen Schwartz (whose tuner “Wicked” is among the Main Stem’s most profitable hits), “Pippin” follows Charlemagne’s heir on his quest to achieve greatness.

No casting for the Rialto version has been confirmed, although it seems likely the Broadway transfer will feature most if not all of the Cambridge cast. Patina Miller (“Sister Act”) plays the Leading Player (the part famously originated by Ben Vereen) opposite Matthew James Thomas (an alternate Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”) in the title role. Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise and Andrea Martin also are among the ensemble.

Creative team for the show includes Scott Pask (sets), Dominique Lemieux (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lights) and Clive Goodwin (sound).

“Pippin” begins previews March 23 ahead of an April 25 opening at the Music Box, where the play “Dead Accounts” ends its abbreviated run Sunday.

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