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Pippin: His Life and Times (1981)

Not Rated | | History, Musical, Romance | TV Movie
At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.


David Sheehan

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Vereen ... The Leading Player
William Katt ... Pippin
Leslie Denniston Leslie Denniston ... Catherine
Benjamin Rayson Benjamin Rayson ... Charlemagne
Martha Raye ... Berthe
Chita Rivera ... Fastrada
Joanie P. Oneill Joanie P. Oneill ... Player
Debra Phelan Debra Phelan ... Player
Linda Haberman Linda Haberman ... Player
Kate Wright Kate Wright ... Player
Allison Williams Allison Williams ... Player
John Mineo John Mineo ... Sword Bearer
Charles Lee Ward Charles Lee Ward ... Peasant
Lee Mathis Lee Mathis ... Beggar
Frank Mastrocola Frank Mastrocola ... Noble


At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Canada | USA



Also Known As:

Pippin: His Life and Times See more »

Filming Locations:

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Company Credits

Production Co:

Elkins Entertainment See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The sheet music flown in for "No Time At All" clearly reads, in the lower left corner: "(C) AD 783." The historical Berthe, Bertrada of Laon, died on 12 June 783. See more »


The Lead Player sings during the song "Simple Joys" that wouldn't you rather be... "a twig on a fig in Galilee." The line from the song that is supposed to be sung is "a fig on a twig in Galilee". See more »


[after a seemingly incinerated man steps forward unharmed]
Pippin: That's the finale? It was just a trick.
The leading player: Well, when he did it, it was a trick. When you do it, it'll be real.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Additionally, in recent years, a rough cut containing all items deleted from the original broadcast version for issues of time has surfaced on the Internet, disappearing only to reappear numerous times. See more »


Referenced in Modern Family: Slow Down Your Neighbors (2011) See more »


Spread a Little Sunshine
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Sung by Chita Rivera
See more »

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User Reviews

Watch the Workprint on YouTube; the Televised Edit SUCKS
29 January 2015 | by udrivemenuttySee all my reviews

I had no idea what to expect when I watched this a few months ago. Irene Ryan lead me to "Pippin" (it's a shame her performance wasn't taped). This was my first "Fosse" experience - and I must say every performer was captivating.

The first version of this 1981 filmed production of "Pippin" that I watched was a leaked unedited workprint on YouTube. This offers you EVERY scene and EVERY song, with different camera angles than the released print. Once I watched the DVD, I truly question if the editor even paid attention to storyline (particularly the segment after "Morning Glow"). Perhaps the most butchered part was "The Hearth" portion of the show (as titled in the original Playbill). I wonder how Leslie Denniston felt when they cut out most of her narration and her song "I Guess I'll Miss The Man". Many many things were cut, including a stanza of my personal favorite song, "No Time At All". I can never watch this edited version so I have opted with a homemade edit combining both versions.

The production itself is truly amazing. Ben Vereen reprises his role as the Leading Player and Christopher Chadman reprises his role as Lewis. William Katt is wonderful as Pippin. Actually every actor does wonderful in this; there is not one person who I think was miscast. This production preserves the original sets and choreography of the original 1972 production - which is a big plus. One interesting note is that the lyrics for "War Is A Science" and "With You" differ from the Original Broadway Cast Album, the latter being changed the most. I don't necessarily prefer one over the other; it's nice to hear different versions of it.

I will warn you that this musical is very unlike most musicals out there as it bounces all over the place. It goes from war to sex to romance to suicide (but hey - it is a story about a man trying to find himself in the world). When I first watched this, the only song that stood out to me was "No Time At All", only because I previously listened to it before watching it. Then I found myself liking "Magic to Do" and "Simple Joys"....then practically every other song in this. This musical really grows on you. Great messages are scattered throughout; "Glory" is amazingly true (and haunting), as well as"No Time At All".

So be sure to watch the workprint on YouTube - you'll get some surprises out of it too; Martha Raye flubs lines in "No Time At All" which are dubbed over in the released print and at the end of "Morning Glow" the tape briefly cuts to a soap opera. Very amusing! But this is the only way to achieve the full experience of "Pippin".

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