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Working Magic With Pippin
by Scott Miller

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The last line of the show has been a cause for debate since the show opened in 1972. After the Players all leave, Catherine asks Pippin how he feels. Pippin's original reply was "Trapped... but happy." According to most sources, Bob Fosse thought the "but happy" was a cop out. After all, Pippin can't yet be sure his decision was the right one. He hopes that it will be, but surely he hasn't gone from having no idea what he wants to knowing exactly what he wants in only a few minutes. Pippin has made a choice, but he is still scared. He knows that he has given up some of his ideals and he must accept compromises for the first time.

Fosse cut the "but happy." Neither composer Stephen Schwartz nor John Rubenstein, who played Pippin, was happy about the change. They both already felt like Fosse was making the show too cynical. But Fosse was the director and was also very intimidating, so the line was changed. After the show's Broadway run, Schwartz had the two words put back in the last line. So the standard licensed version contains the original line. Because the word "happy" carries extra baggage in the world of musical comedy in which so many shows must end "happily ever after," it is dangerous to use that word carelessly. So the debate rages on. Is Pippin really happy? Can you feel trapped and happy at the same time? Can he acquire that much wisdom and self-knowledge that quickly? It's a decision you have to make.

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