As Berthe, Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing, The Fog, Maude) “sings a wonderful song while hanging upside down from a trapeze.” She says it's not that difficult (“Well, I'm totally dependent upon the porter who's flying me”) and she even gets the audience to join in the singing.
It's the return of Pippin to Houston in the 2013 version that won a Tony award for Best Revival. Barbeau was asked to rejoin the Broadway Across America tour after leaving it last August (“I had two teenagers starting their first year of college.”) and she said yes.
The plot: Pippin is the son of Charlemagne ( in a retelling very loosely based on history) who is searching for his place in life. In the revised version by director Diane Paulus, the troupe of performers is set in a circus.
“Berthe is Pippin's grandmother. He comes to her for advice. He has tried many, many things, and he comes to Berthe saying, 'I don't know what it is I want.' She believes we should live in the moment. You need to look at this day, enjoy it,” Barbeau says.
Not recommended for children under eight because of sexual references, the 2013 version of Pippin retains Bob Fosse's choreography but adds in a lot of acrobatics. “It's hard to understand how they do some of it,” Barbeau says. “And the talent and the strength and the fearlessness is amazing.” And in what has to be a reassuring continuation of the original, “John Rubinstein, who played Pippin in the 1972 version, is now playing Charlemagne,” Barbeau says.
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Pippin runs October 20-25 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center. 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit hobbycenter.com. $45-$105.