Show History



Pippin, with a book by Roger O. Hirson and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is a fictional account of the life of "Pippin the Hunchback," son of the king Charlemagne during the Middle Ages. While attending Carnegie Mellon University, Schwartz's friend had seen a paragraph in a history textbook about the son of Charlemagne launching a revolution against his father. Finding fun in the idea of a musical based around drama in the court, Schwartz and Strauss worked together to write a musical called Pippin, Pippin, which was performed by the college's Scotch 'n' Soda club.

After graduating college, Schwartz decided to move to New York and took the show to find producers. He found a book writer (Hirson) and was then instructed by Harold Prince to write another section of the show for Pippin's life following the assassination of his father. As a result, the show evolved to become a story about a young man in search of himself, a metaphor for Schwartz's own struggles in his early twenties. In his music, he attempted to use the styles of contemporary pop music within the typical book musical.


Pippin premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theater on October 23, 1972, after a successful tryout in Washington, D.C.; it subsequently closed on June 12, 1977, after 1,944 performances. Directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, the cast featured performances by John Rubinstein, Ben Vereen and Irene Ryan. The musical opened on the West End at Her Majesty's Theatre on October 30, 1973. Once again directed and choreographed by Fosse, the production ran for 85 performances.

The musical had its first major revival on November 22, 2011, with a production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London. The next year, on December 5, 2012, a new Diane Paulus-directed production opened at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which included many circus acts performed by the troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main. The idea caught on so well that the production transferred to the Music Box Theatre on Broadway. Starring Matthew James Thomas, Patina Miller and Andrea Martin, it opened on April 25, 2013, and closed on January 4, 2015.

Over the years, Pippin has been performed in a wide array of regional theatres and locations. In 2004, the show was performed at the second annual World AIDS Day Concert, the first time it had been back to New York since the original opening. A production in early 2009 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, based the setting in modern times and was modified to include deaf actors using American Sign Language. The first production performed entirely in Spanish opened on December 12, 2013, at the Lily Alvarez Sierra Company in Caracas, Venezuela. A national tour also launched in 2015.

Cultural Influence

  • The original Broadway production was the first show to ever use actual scenes in its television commercials. It broke ground for Broadway advertising.
  • The music has received a significant amount of coverage from other artists. "Corner of the Sky" has been covered by The Jackson 5, Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark. The Supremes covered "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" in 1972 and Michael Jackson released a cover of "Morning Glow" in 1973.
  • Pippin's original Broadway production is currently the 31st longest-running Broadway show.


  • The original Broadway production was nominated for an additional nine Tony Awards in 1973, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. The production was also nominated for a New York Drama Critics Circle Award as Best Musical.
  • Bob Fosse was the only director to win a Tony, an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year (1973). He won two Tonys (direction and choreography) for Pippin.