Theatre dept preparing for Pippin
November 19, 2007 —
SVSU's theatre department is livening up the end of the semester with their production of the musical Pippin.
"It's a terrific show. It's got lots of contemporary music in it, lots of contemporary dance in it. It has every genre of music in it," Assistant Professor of Theatre Ric Roberts said. "Rock, jazz, everything is in the show."
Pippin, written by Roger O. Hirson with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is based on the story of King Charlemagne's son Pippin. It is a coming of age story that has Pippin wandering through worlds of politics, love and war before finding his true calling.
The show is actually a play within a play.
"It starts off with a traveling troupe of actors who do a musical number and then decide they are going to do the play of Pippin which is the story of King Charlemagne and his son Pippin based on real people," Roberts said. "There was a King Charlemagne, he did have a son Pippin, so it is based on partial truths. Very limited, partial truths."
The show was written in the 1970s, based in the late 700s, but addresses issues that are still seen today.
"Social commentary on war, very appropriate to what's going on today in the world," Roberts said. "And a lot of the characters express their feelings, both pro and con, of war."
The story has two main characters, Pippin and the Leading Player. Pippin is played by John Pizanis and the Leading Player is played by theatre junior Caleb Knutson.
Roberts said that Pippin, like many of us in this country, believes he can do a better job running the country than his father. This leads to death, resurrection, and a journey to find one's self.
Pippin has his father killed so he can take over as king, but eventually realizes running a country isn't as easy as he thought. He begs the Leading Player to bring his father back, which the Player does. After his father returns as king, Pippin goes on a spiritual journey and falls in love, later finding he wants to leave again.
The Leading Player is like a puppet master. "He leads this troupe of actors and pretty much gets them to do whatever they want them to do," Roberts said. "He uses this traveling troupe as fun for himself."
There are a couple of things that are unique about this production.
Pippin is the first show at SVSU with professional choreography. Eric Abbott-Main, a professional dancer from Ann Arbor, came up and choreographed the show over two weekends.
Robert said that the dancing aspect of the musical was a big worry of his. After the choreography sessions, that worry went away.
"They handled it very well."
Another unique aspect about the production is what will happen on stage during the performance.
"We have virtually no sets, it's all moveable blocks that go all over the place and build," Roberts said. "The actors move everything."
Unlike other productions where the lights would dim for a switch in scenery or props or where actors would be on and off stage, Pippin has the actors on stage the entire time, moving sets and doing costume changes right in front of the audience.
"Once the actors start on stage at the beginning of the show, they never ever leave stage until the show's over," Roberts said. "They are seen the entire time. They change all the costumes for all these characters, they make all the props, they build the sets, they move the sets. They sing, they dance, they act, all of it."
Pippin opens Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts. Performance will repeat on Dec. 1, 7, and 8 at 8 p.m. and again on Dec. 2 and 9 at 3 p.m.