Music, magic, and amusement filled the Bonn Studio in Robsham Theater this weekend when the student-directed and produced musical Pippin took the stage. The Dramatics Society and Contemporary Theatre’s production was colorful, humorous, and heartwarming.
Directed by Meg Ellis, MCAS ’20, Pippin officially premiered on Thursday, but tickets sold so quickly that many students were permitted to watch the final dress rehearsal on Wednesday. The musical was entertaining and full of talented actors, and it did a wonderful job of engaging the audience.
Pippin tells the story of a young boy named Pippin (Tiffany Brooks, MCAS ’21) and his journey to find meaning in his life. Pippin, the son of Charlemagne (Garrett Gagnon, MCAS ’20), tries war, art, religion, and even treason, but none seem to satisfy him. All of this action occurs while a mysterious figure, the Leading Player (Caitlin Mahon, MCAS ’21), seems to orchestrate Pippin’s fate while addressing the audience directly.
It is not until Pippin’s despair brings him to the estate of a young widow named Catherine (Katie Hughes, MCAS ’23) that his purpose begins to take shape. At first, Pippin is apathetic toward Catherine, but time and effort bring them together. It is through this relationship that Pippin begins to feel fulfilled.
The set of the show was minimalistic, with only a few props and color-changing lights for the actors to rely on. This bareness added to the mystery of Pippin—it allowed the audience members to use their imaginations to envision the Holy Roman Empire and allowed the actors to paint this picture in a more abstract fashion.
The visuals of the show were tied together by a grunge aesthetic. The costumes were all black and included leather jackets, chain belts, and tall boots.
The vocals throughout the musical were truly impressive. In particular, the voice of Mahon was breathtaking. She demonstrated a spectacular range. The vocal talent of the cast combined with the lively score aided in creating the mystical atmosphere of Pippin.
The play was able to balance a discussion of the heavy topics of fate and fulfillment with not-so-child-friendly humor. The script is filled with playful innuendos and hilarious outbursts of emotion, to which the audience responded enthusiastically with laughter and cheers. These humorous elements ensured that the play didn’t get bogged down by its more serious themes.
The true magic of Pippin lay in its ability to engage the audience members from the moment they entered the theater to the moment they left. Before the show, each audience member was handed a flyer that contained the lyrics to one of the songs from the musical. The cast was friendly and assured the audience that it was in for a treat. When the time came for the audience to sing, many of the cast members entered the audience to lead a cheerful sing-along.
The cast and crew of Pippin did a wonderful job of creating a unique experience for the audience. Although there were a few minor technical difficulties, the cast maintained its poise and spread the jubilant mood of the musical to the audience with joyful humor and music for all.
Featured Image by Kait Devir / Photo Staff