Up Next At The Orpheum: PIPPIN! + An Attempt At Aerial Arts

Posted by Holly Whitfield | November 10th 2015 2030 0

The next Broadway show to play at the Orpheum Theatre is Pippin, and it opens on November 17. Pippin is a Tony Award-winning show (with tunes from Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz) but this current version is also a Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatic show.

Pippin 2__418 Cast of the National Tour of PIPPIN. Credit Terry Shapiro

Ed. Note, 11/18: Now having seen the show, I can confirm that it’s circus-stunt-filled, fun performance with a vibrant cast and you shouldn’t miss it. The two leads are mesmerizing and I loved the Fosse choreography. Now, I’m not the pearl clutching type, but there are a couple of sexy songs/dances, so I might proceed with caution when bringing the younger ones. It’s a great time for mature teens and adults, though.

Pippin’s upcoming run at the Orpheum inspired me to find out more about what goes into this kind of performance. The next thing I knew, I was balancing on a hoop spinning around in mid-air at High Expectations aerial arts studio in Binghampton. I also interviewed a cast member, Katie Smith, who will be in Memphis next week to perform in Pippin. Scroll down for my Q&A with her.

Here’s a video of my interview with High Expectations owner Danielle, plus a few clips of my lessons and the local pros doing their thing. Huge thanks to the Orpheum for setting this up.

Pippin will be at the Orpheum November 17 – 22 and tickets range from $25 to $125. Go here for tickets.

High Expectations teaches aerial arts classes for student of all levels. Their studio is located at 144 Cumberland. You can find out more about them here.

Here are a few more pictures from my lesson. This move felt way harder than it looks.

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Danielle demonstrates some supposedly basic hoop work. I am not so sure about the upside-down business.

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But I somehow managed to get myself up there and balance. I have no idea how I got down from this.

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Then the pros took to the silks…

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And finished up the day with a little partner acrobatic work.

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Think you want to give aerial arts a shot? High Expectations teaches classes. Find out more here.

Pippin 3__1143 The Cast of the National Touring Production of PIPPIN. Credit Terry Shapiro

Here’s my Q&A with Pippin cast member Katie Smith, who will be in Memphis for the show next week.

Holly: What is it like to be a professional acrobat?

Katie: I’ve done acrobatic gymnastics since I was 7 years old, and I’m now 21. It’s a big part of my life. I was with Cirque du Soleil for four years before I joined the cast of Pippin. I’ve toured Taipei, Japan, Australia, and almost every state in the U.S. I’m from London and I’ve been on the road since I was 16.

Holly: What can people expect from this version of the Pippin show and what is your role?

Katie: I do a lot of aerial work – with silks and hoops – and I also get thrown around a bit during the show. There’s s lot of singing and dancing, of course, but the twist to Pippin is that there are a lot of acrobatics. The musical and the aerial work is all together. There are serious parts and sad parts in the plot, but it’s a really fun show. It’s also family friendly.

Holly: How much rehearsal time does it take to put on a show like this?

Katie: It really depends on the role. The longest we’d have to rehearse is 6 weeks, sometimes four weeks. For Pippin, we move to a different city every week, go to four cities every month.

Holly: I’m taking an aerial class at a local studio later. Do you have any tips?

Katie: Make sure you do a very good warm-up and that you know exactly what you’re doing before you get up there on any equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor

Go there:

Orpheum Theatre

November 17 – 22, 2015

$25 – $125


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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