‘Pippin’ comes alive at JCU

March 23rd, 2012

A handsome young man returns from college and, despite his family’s considerable status, becomes obsessed with determining his self-worth and purpose.

No, this isn’t the story of every John Carroll male student; this is the story of Pippin, which the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts and the JCU Little Theatre Society will present the next two weekends in the Kulas Auditorium.

Based on the book by Roger O. Hirson and featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, “Pippin” was originally directed by Bob Fosse and garnered 10 Tony Award nominations and won five in 1973.

Pippin is the son of French emperor Charlemagne and as young Pippin searches for the meaning of life through war, love and politics, he realizes that it’s right in front of him.

The production is directed by Keith Nagy, a theater instructor in the communications department. “Pippin can be anyone. He can be any John Carroll student or anyone else in the audience; the play has a universal message,” he said. “Traditionally John Carroll does a musical only every other year and when making the selection this year ‘Pippin’ was the obvious selection. Two years ago I realized the immense amount of male talent we had. It seemed like ‘Pippin’ would be a great fit”

“I remember when I was idealistic and full of dreams and hopes,” said Nagy, “and the character of Pippin speaks to me in that way. I think he speaks for all of them This is another one of those stories full of intrigues, battles, love, and magic. Please enjoy Pippin’s musical journey and please, do not stop dreaming.”

Senior Dan Simpson will be playing the title role of Pippin searching for some sort of meaning in his life. No matter what he does or tries, nothing can satisfy him. Simpson said that the most challenging part of this process has been to keep his voice ready while in the rehearsal process. “We’ve been rehearsing for six nights a week, 7-10 p.m. It took a while to get it all together, but it’s definitely there,” he said.

Senior Brian Devers will be playing Pippin’s privileged father, Charlemagne. This is Dever’s first musical at John Carroll. “It’s been a great opportunity,” he said,  “because I’m not sure I’ll get another chance; it’s a great genre.”

Pippin’s love interest, the mother Catherine, is played by sophomore Emily Stolfer. Catherine is a widow with a son who lives on her own. Pippin is just dropped into her hands and she tries to pick him back up and attempts to domesticate him.

Like Pippin, Catherine changes during the story. Stolfer said, “The cast is just one big family, it’s been so much fun. There’s no better way to bond than through theatre and music.”

Guiding Pippin through his choices and the audience through the action is The Leading Player, portrayed by Junior Brendan Hancock who has been heavily involved with previous productions at John Carroll. As the emcee of the production Hancock said, “it’s my job to keep the show going smoothly, I even directly address the audience.”

The prince’s journey to enlightenment is told through lively song and dance in the John Carroll production of “Pippin,” in Kulas Theatre March 23, 24, 30, 31 at 7:30 p.m. and March 25 and April 1 at 2 p.m. Worried about ticket prices? Don’t be. Opening night is deemed as “Pay-what-you-can,” where a donation is suggested of $2 with Carroll ID.