Special Episode: Elysa Gardner on the Magic and Mayhem in the Creation of ‘Pippin’


On today’s episode, Matt is in conversation with theater and music critic and journalist Elysa Gardner. Her new book “Magic to Do: Pippin’s Fantastic, Fraught Journey to Broadway and Beyond” details the contentious road that the show took to the Broadway stage. In the interview, Matt and Elysa discuss why there was so much animosity between composer Stephen Schwartz and director and choreographer Bob Fosse. 

They also get into why “Pippin” needs such a strong directorial vision, which was why Fosse and Diane Paulus’ productions have been so revelatory. 

In “Magic to Do,” which celebrates the 50th anniversary of “Pippin’s” opening, Elysa Gardner turns her attention to this innovative show, the musical retelling of the story of Prince Pippin, son of Charlemagne, and his quest for an “extraordinary life.” 

“Magic to Do” dives deep into the legendary clashes, backstage drama, and incredible artistic synergy that produced one of Broadway’s most influential musicals, a show that paved the way for the pop-informed musicals that we know and love today. Full of big personalities, brilliant creative minds, and never-before-told stories, Magic to Do is an intimate look at a moment in history, a time and a place in which popular culture was as defined by conflict — between the young and the old, idealism and cynicism, creation and destruction — as anything else. 

Gardner draws out this friction through her examination of the creative struggles between Pippin’s director/choreographer, the iconic Bob Fosse, for whom the show would mark a massive career resurgence, and its young composer/lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, who was making his Broadway debut.

Purchase “Magic to Do: Pippin’s Fantastic, Fraught Journey to Broadway and Beyond”: 

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