The second most frequently performed Broadway musical to feature a spanking scene is Pippin, which premiered at the Imperial Theater, New York, on October 23, 1972 with John Rubinstein in the title role. It’s a rock show in the colorful, exuberant style popularized by Hair five years earlier. The music and lyrics were by Stephen Schwartz and the book was by Roger O. Hirson, but the man we have to thank is the choreographer and original director of the show, Bob Fosse (1927-87), whose early resume coincidentally includes an appearance in the 1953 film version of Kiss Me Kate.
The musical is a coming-of-age story about a prince, the eponymous Pippin, who is trying to find his true place in the world. The sequence we’re going to be looking at comes near the end of the first act, just after his grandmother has encouraged him to enjoy his youth while he still has it. He goes in search of female companionship, and finds it – in spades! A love song, ‘With You’, segues into a dance number representing an orgy (it has been wittily called a ‘ho-down’), but he eventually puts a stop to it because he has realized that sex without love is unfulfilling – and so he rises above the temptations of the flesh.
In the original Fosse choreography, the various acts of debauchery include drug-taking: Pippin is given a hookah to smoke from and, once he’s nice and high, he finds there is a scantily clad girl across his knee.
(She’d probably be a bit more scantily clad if that wasn’t a rehearsal shot.)
She has crawled there herself, but Pippin doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. One of his fellow orgiasts takes his hand and gives her a smack on the bottom with it.
She squeals delightedly, bucks her head up and flutters her legs: that was exactly what she wanted!
Pippin gives her another slap unaided, then a third and fourth in quick succession.
More delighted squealing and kicking on her part…
… but then she climbs off and the sequence moves on to vices new.
Now, I said this musical is very often revived, but what I neglected to add is that it is often done without the spanking. It has fed into the US culture of the ‘high school musical’, so predictably the orgy sequence tends to be radically toned down so that Pippin is simply overwhelmed by sexy girls. That’s not entirely attributable to teacherly caution: many of Fosse’s ballet moves are extremely complex and ambitious and best avoided by the semi-trained amateur – don’t try this at home, or in school! In the end, the orgy merely needs to suggest general naughty hijinks: there doesn’t actually have to be a spanking, which means it’s often cut out, in university and regional productions too. And be warned, it’s just as easily altered as omitted: there are a couple of F/M versions out there.
But happily, there are also several good renderings of the show as choreographed by Fosse. The original (from which most of the pictures above were taken), filmed onstage in Toronto in 1981, with William Katt as Pippin, may be seen here.
Next is a production by the Cultural Arts Playhouse, New York, in 2010, which makes one or two slight variations to Fosse’s choreography, as you can see here.
This seems to be slightly less of a consensual spanking, since the girl doesn’t get across his knee of her own volition, but is placed there by others. Also, Pippin spanks on his own account right from the start. The girl’s a bit less animated than I’d prefer, but she does look quite gorgeous in that miniskirt and boots.
Now for a 2011 school production from San Miguel, for which we have two different performances. First, a preview version:
For those who like their girls properly across the knee and kicking in the air, this is the weakest of the videos presented here, but at least this Pippin gives her more than the regulation four smacks. In the other version she has her feet off the ground (better), though she is still rather unresponsive:
And here’s a 2013 performance at Coastal Carolina University, with Conor deVoe as Pippin:
That’s much more faithful to Fosse, except that the delight seems to emanate from everyone and not just the spanked girl!
And finally, here’s another nice still from an April 2014 production at the University of South Dakota:
Pippin‘s orgy scene is always fun to watch, whatever they do with it, because it requires a cavorting group of attractive, sexy girls. But it’s always better when one of those sexy girls gets a spanking!
For more from Pippin, go here.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Susan Gerber for an important factual correction.