There are three reasons my family will be at Pippin this weekend.
PHS has a solid reputation for quality entertainment, and we don’t want to miss a production, because we know people will be talking about it for days.
The 50-plus students in the cast, crew, and pit orchestra, along with the dozen or so adults involved, have worked incredibly hard since August — hundreds of total hours in class, on weekends, and after school — to design, learn, rehearse, and perfect this show. They are dedicated and passionate. If these young people and their teachers are willing to spend that much time on it, I am willing to spend 2 hours watching it in support of them.
Our younger son is in it.
But there are plenty more reasons to see it, too. Take it from just a few of the those involved:
Director Greg Shaw says Pippin's message is universal.
"I think Pippin is a story that everyone can relate to regarding growing up and maturing, whether you have already been through it or are experiencing it,” he said. “It combines traditional theatrics and circus charm with new performance styles like Cirque du Soleil.”
Choreographers Maggie Stephens and Mollie Stephens describe Pippin as “a really bold show that tackles a lot of things that most people experience at some point throughout their lives in a narrative, artistic way. If you really pay attention, you'll find yourself in Pippin at one point throughout the show."
Pit Orchestra Conductor Cooper Neil describe the show’s music as “absolutely wonderful” and the show itself as “quirky and fun.”
“And the 14 musicians who play in the pit orchestra are doing a stellar job with the challenging score,” he said.
Winner of four Tony Awards in 2013, including Best Musical Revival, the updated version of the Broadway show is a circus-inspired show-within-a-show. It’s colorful and acrobatic and full of gorgeous costumes, and is set to an infectious score from four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz.
The plot: one young man's journey to be extraordinary. Heir to the Frankish throne, the young prince Pippin is in search of the secret to true happiness and fulfillment. He seeks it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh, and the intrigues of political power (after disposing of his father, King Charlemagne the Great). In the end, though, Pippin finds that happiness lies not in extraordinary endeavors, but rather in the unextraordinary moments that happen every day.
It’s important to note that it’s all packaged up with a bit of satire, several metaphors, some adult innuendos, and layers of deep issues, while not appearing to take itself seriously at all.
Explains Younger Son: “If people liked Urinetown (2017), they’ll 100 percent like Pippin. You can’t watch it like you would watch a traditional show — you have to go in expecting a clever, deep, slightly dark sense of humor, with messages you have to think about.”
Parents should also note that the show is rated PG-13.
Charting a path
Off stage, several students have been charting their own paths, and the direction they’re taking was impacted by their work as part of the technical crew.
Junior Cole Ingerson, assistant lighting designer, has found a mentor in Pippin Lighting Designer Kyle Newby, who works as technical director at Memorial Auditorium.
"It's one of the biggest shows we've ever done, with 230 to 250 light cues and 100 spotlight cues," Kyle said.
By comparison, last year's fall musical, Aida, which they also collaborated on, had 170.
Kyle first got bitten by the technical aspect of theatre as a sophomore at Carl Junction High School when his theatre teacher gave him a manual and encouraged him to learn it so he could run lighting for the school play. In the eight years since, he's designed lighting for 126 shows including several for PHS.
"Now I'm kind of inspired to do this as a possible career, too," said Cole, who counts Pippin as his eighth show. "Kyle is helping me learn the ropes. He's a good mentor."
Sophomore Ashley Singh, who was deck boss for Footloose last year, has been promoted to stage manager for Pippin.
“I really just got into this because I wanted to be part of something after school, but I didn’t want to be on stage,” said Ashley, whose copy of the script is littered with sticky notes of every color to indicate cues she’s responsible for calling.
Teacher Chuck Boyles encouraged her to pursue the offstage aspect of theatre, she did, and she liked it.
“I’ve changed my career path because of this,” she said. “Now I want to do something like technical theatre or stage management. I still have a lot to learn, but I have my foot in the door.”
I can’t wait to see their work.
Tickets and showtimes
Performances will be 7 p.m. Nov. 15-16, and 2 p.m. Nov. 16-17.
Tickets are $6, $8, and $10. They can be purchased online atwww.memorialauditorium.org, by calling the box office at 620-231-7827 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or in person at 503 N. Pine during business hours.
Tickets also may be purchased at the door starting one hour before curtain.
— Andra Bryan Stefanoni is a lifelong Pittsburg resident and arts enthusiast. She is the director of media relations at Pittsburg State University. Feedback: email@example.com