Not Fusion Cuisine, Fusion . . . Theatre?

With the growing popularity of cooking across the world we are seeing a huge increase in the concept of fusion cuisine. This has proved very popular for the food industry, so why wouldn’t it work in the theatre industry. A bit of a stretch? Well, believe it or not, it is already happening and it appears to be immensely popular.

The Stephen Schwartz classic Pippin has recently been revived for Broadway with a new take on the original story. When it first opened on Broadway, Pippin told the story of a prince (the first-born of Charlemagne) who was looking for his place in the world and the story was played out by a ‘ye olde’ troupe of actors. Think Shakespeare meets the golden age of musical theatre, with a dash of 70s music thrown in for good measure.

A rather difficult concept to resurrect on Broadway when you have to compete with the likes of The Book of Mormon, Wicked, and the ever-growing Disney conglomerate!

In what many critics have called a ‘stroke of genius’, the current revival of Pippin has swapped the troupe of actors for a troupe more prominent in today’s society . . . a troupe of circus performers. While you may be thinking ‘What’s the difference?’ check out the preview of the show below and tell me that you wouldn’t mind paying $120 to sit through three hours of this performance:

This production of Pippin seems to have drawn inspiration from a little-known performing troupe called Cirque du Soleil and combined that with elements of musical theatre to create a strange fusion between circus and theatre that works very well. But not only have they created a great piece of theatre, they have also exponentially increased the size of their market!

Cirque du Soleil attracts an enormous and wide-ranging market. It also manages to attract a market that wouldn’t usually purchase high priced tickets to an artsy event. Isn’t this exactly the kind of audience that today’s theatre industry wants to bring in the doors?

Through creating this fusion between circus and theatre, Pippin has managed to shake off the constraints of the normal Broadway market and open itself up to the same marketplace that Cirque du Soleil attracts plus the usual audience of theatregoers. Smart move? I think so. The circus element manages to lull people who would usually steer clear of theatre through the doors and encourage them to have a little taste of theatre but mostly enjoy the circus acts.

Did your parents ever try to hide your vegetables in a pizza or a pasta bake just so you would eat it unknowingly? Exactly the same idea!

While this may seem futile as they have come to the theatre to see the circus acts not the performers, the hope is that once they have been exposed to the incredible talents of Patina Miller and Matthew James Thomas (two leads who are very strong in the theatre scene, but not the mainstream markets) they will be coming back for more in shows with less circus tricks.

Interesting idea that has tremendously increased their market and their general appeal. Time will tell if my analysis of Pippin’s future success is true, but in the meantime let me know if you agree or disagree with my opinion!