Last week, our University Stageblazers performed a magical production of Pippin, an award-winning musical that depicts the story of a young man’s journey to live a life of complete fulfillment. Pippin is very abstract and mature, both conceptually and visually, making it a bold choice for a high school. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the show is its trademark destruction of the fourth wall, the imaginary boundary between the fiction of a show and the reality of an audience. On top of this show-within-a-show nature, Pippin presented no shortage of challenges. From the choreography to the spinning periactoids- even fire and magic tricks- this show was much more physically demanding than most of the past Stageblazer productions. The show also discussed heavy themes such as suicide that pushed the actors mentally and emotionally. Despite these and many other challenges, the cast and crew succeeded in creating a wonderfully interesting, innovative, and thought-provoking production.
Fittingly, Pippin showcased four seniors, each about to begin their own journey to find their “corner of the sky”. J.T. Wood played the role of Pippin in his sixth University production. His favorite roles have been the Prince in Cinderella and the Mad Hatter in The Alice Adventures. J.T. will be attending Otterbein University to study musical theater, along with his sister Morgan who graduated last year from UHS. Lauren Marks-Strauss portrayed a Player, one of the ensemble members leading the show and attempting to destroy Pippin. Lauren was also highlighted in many dance numbers throughout the show. She has participated in all four musicals in her time at University, as well as The Alice Adventures. Next year, Lauren will be attending Denison University in Ohio. Carolyn Todd worked as Prop Master for Pippin, her seventh production on tech at University. Her favorite shows to be a part of were You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and The Fantasticks. Carolyn will be at Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall to study fine arts and communications. Stephen Flickner played drums for Pippin, as well as You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. He plans on attending IUPUI next year.
It’s no secret that the 31-member cast and crew were extremely proud of and excited about the production, and rightly so. Each person who was a part of Pippin was thoroughly impacted by it in a unique way, and hopefully those who witnessed it from the audience were as well. My favorite element of Pippin is that it lends itself, as art always does, to countless interpretations. This gives it the ability to influence and inspire everyone differently. Junior Betsy Duck, shining as a sassy grandma once again in the role of Berthe, felt that “the main idea we tried to convey was that, while a life full of spectacles and magic may seem intriguing at the surface, you already have the power to find fulfillment in a completely ordinary life.” Stage manager Kenzye Bird identified most with the song “Corner of the Sky,” as “this really helps the audience connect, because as humans we search for so long to find something that will add meaning to our existence, and in the end we realize that everything we had been searching for was right in front of us.” To Katharine Ruegger, who played opposite J.T. as Catherine, the message of Pippin is short and sweet: “You can choose to live your life as big or as small as you’d like, but you always need to know where your home lies, and who your home lies in.”