‘PIPPIN’ OPENS TONIGHT!
A pop-culture tribute to the modern Everyman who’s searching for his place in the world, the musical comedy “Pippin” opens tonight – Thursday, March 2 – at the University of Science and Arts’ Davis Hall Theatre.
Director Dion Stover says he has loved the outlandish farce – both introspective and comic – from the first time he saw it. In fact, Stover’s first big role in musical theatre was in a production of “Pippin.”
“It’s been over 30 years since “Pippin” first opened on Broadway,” says Stover, “but its universal themes of self discovery and finding our place in this world are unchanging. Everyone seeks ultimate fulfillment in life and the students here at USAO are no exception. They too are seeking their “Corner of the Sky,” referring to a signature song in the show.
“We encourage everyone to laugh, cry, love, cheer, sympathize, and struggle with Pippin on his quest for ultimate fulfillment,” Stover says.
Performances of the USAO production are scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for senior citizens. Parents are cautioned that the show contains some mature themes.
USAO’s production is a combined effort by faculty in music and drama. Stover is a guest director who has choreographed or directed several previous productions at USAO. For “Pippin,” Stover serves as director and choreographer, among other responsibilities.
“Pippin” opened on Broadway in the fall of 1972 and ran for 1,944 performances. The Broadway production was directed and choreographed by legendary dance innovator Bob Fosse, who said, “I think any director identifies with all the characters in every theatrical venture he does.” Stover says about his production, “The same can be said for this venture I have undertaken with a new production of ‘Pippin.’”
While “Pippin” is a musical comedy, it is frequently misunderstood, Stover explains. “Even people who have performed the show often don’t realize the depth of meaning and profound subtext in this script. Often audiences become so caught up in the literal images that they miss the metaphorical and symbolic significance of the characters and the events in the story. The characters are manifestations of Pippin’s inner turmoil and imagination. The reoccurring themes of sunrise and sunset refer to life and death and Pippin’s conflict within himself. Ultimately, it is this conflict that forces Pippin to choose between life and death.”
Stover’s fascination with “Pippin” and its message have led him to develop a unique ending to this production. “The ending of this show is not conventional for musical theatre,” Stover says, “so you, as an audience member, are encouraged to interpret it and reach your own conclusions.”
The character of Pippin is played by Michael McCormick of Marlow, a sophomore in psychology. His father, Charlemagne the Great, is played by Chris Davis of Chickasha, a senior in communication.
Two students from Tulsa, known on campus as the Schultz twins, play the “leading players” in “Pippin.” Both are sophomores. Brittany Schultz is studying deaf education at USAO; Laura is in early childhood education.
Pippin’s half brother is played by Jake Tennell of Chickasha, a community member. Fastrata is played by Dee Dee Beard of Tulsa, a senior in drama. The cast features one child actor: Caleb Brauer, who plays Theo.
The Players include Ryan Bell of Chickasha, a sophomore in drama; Annica Canady of Choctaw, a senior in music; freshman Megan Capshaw of Ardmore; Lonnie Iannazzo of Tulsa, a sophomore in communication; and Angela Jones of Frisco, Texas, a junior in political science;
Other Players include Chris Lumsden of Chickasha, a freshman in music; Meagan Peters of Marlow, a sophomore in communication; Sarah Pyle of Elmore City, a sophomore in English; Chris Stanford of Blackwell, a sophomore in drama; Tegan Switzer of Mustang, a freshman in drama; Katie Wint of Kingfisher, a freshman in speech/language.
Acting as dance captain is Angela Jones. Magic consultant is Adeel Siddiqui, Computer Network Specialist at USAO. Cue master is Rebecca Wasson, a senior. The property master and sound board operator is C.W. Bardsher of Duncan, a freshman in communication.
Musical director for the show is Dr. Jan Hanson, who is serving her 20th year on the USAO faculty. She also directs the USAO Concert Choir and is active in local and state music events and competitions. She is a professor of music at USAO.
Costume director is Marcia Vliet, special instructor in music, drama and literature. She was assisted in costuming this show by students and friends of the college: Shannon Osborn, Ryan Bell, Janie Osborn, Glenda Beard and Laura Rongey.
Technical director for “Pippin” is Roger Drummond, professor of drama at USAO. Drummond is serving his 28th year on the USAO faculty. Shop foreman is John Morgan, an alumnus who serves on the adjunct faculty in drama.
Bobby Arnold of Chickasha, a community member, operates the light board.