pippin

In the attached photo, from left to right: Maggie Briggs and Anna Smith

 

The photo is by Jeffrey Jones.

When Pippin exclaimed that "[He's] got to be where [his] spirit can run free,” it was clear that the audience was in for a treat, and the spirit certainly did run free at Justice High School that night.

This 1972 musical, with great lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz, won many Tony Awards after a five-year run on Broadway and later enjoyed a revival in 2013. Some elements of the original production echoed masterfully in the Wolfpack Theatre, like the use of shadows and silhouettes, circus elements and Fosse choreography.

The show follows Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, as he ventures out into the world to find his true purpose. Constantly in a balancing act between enjoying the simple pleasures of life and seeking greatness and historical acclaim, Pippin's internal battle is on full display. Elias “Elijah” Kassa, as Pippin, brought the energy of this angst through masterful vocal inflection, showing a struggle and want for something deeper. Kassa had us hooked from the moment he danced out into the audience to serenade us with an excellent rendition of “Corner of the Sky,” accompanied by a stunning light show.

Valeria Peterson, as the Leading Player, performed in a role that seemed to be made just for her. A commanding presence, she could easily control the room as the ringleader of this wild production. Peterson had the whole crowd roaring with her excellent comedic timing, down to the smallest, most calculated facial expression.

However, the show couldn't have been pulled off without its glowing supporting cast and ensemble. Sofi Hemmens, as Catherine, maintained excellent chemistry with her onstage family members throughout the night and delivered some heartbreaking vocal performances. Angel Stanfield, as Fastrada, brought so much energy and life to her character, turning the usual evil stepmother stereotype into an almost relatable and certainly fun role.

The technical elements of the show were really what made transitions seamless and gave the story its flow. The lighting (Elizabeth Cheek and Benny Ward) was, in one word, superb. A wide expanse of sky was portrayed through gentle color gradations, and shrinking spotlights reflected more intimate and nail-biting moments. Especially of note was the resourceful use of a simple projector, a tool that every high school theater has and not enough of them take advantage of, for an audience singalong and the finale sequence. The makeup team (Charlie Boucher and Makayla Freeman) brought unique mime-like face paint to each of the members of the ensemble, somehow incorporating elements reminiscent of the show's medieval setting as well.

 

Pippin may have chosen an ordinary family life after his many wild adventures, but this production was definitely “Extraordinary.” Overall, the cast and crew of Pippin worked together to produce an absolutely memorable and beautifully executed experience. They surely delivered on their promise of bringing magic to us all.

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