While starring in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" on Broadway, actor Matthew James Thomas got used to flying through the air.


Thomas' new gig at the American Repertory Theater has him doing a few crazy stunts again.

"The difference here is that we're not using any wire," says the British performer, who plays the lead role in "Pippin."


At one point Thomas boldly leaps from a 15-foot pole into the arms of a team of acrobats.


"They use their arms and their strength to throw me around the stage and I have a moment on a hoop that is raised up into the sky," explains Thomas.


In "Pippin," a troupe of performers tells the self-discovery story of a young prince during medieval times.

"He's put into different scenarios in which he has to choose how he acts, but he's being manipulated by the people around him," says Thomas. "It's the everyman journey to realizing himself."

The musical premiered in 1972, and its themes are tied to the social upheaval of that decade. But audiences in this era will connect with the same ideas.

"In some ways it's quite scary but also exciting that life really hasn't changed," says Thomas. "The show wants people to feel and reevaluate instead of just going from thing to thing."

Meet the all-star team

There are some big names behind this production of “Pippin”: In addition to all-star director Diane Paulus, creator Stephen Schwartz did music and lyrics for “Godspell” and “Wicked.” The choreography for the circus feats in this show comes from Gypsy Snider, who is known for work with the Montreal-based circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main.

If you go


Tonight through Jan. 20

Loeb Drama Center

64 Brattle St., Cambridge

$25-$65, 617-547-8300