"Pippin" smashed onto Broadway in 1972 and soon collected five Tony awards, including an award for best director for Bob Fosse. The show follows the story of Pippin, an 8th-century prince on the classic search for acceptance and the meaning of life. His story, however, is told from an untraditional perspective -- in a "modern" but unidentifiable time period.
Magruder High School's recent production did a good job of including the audience as part of Pippin's magic. Ushers in fanciful costumes greeted audience members before beckoning them into the story with a montage of glowing white hands dancing on stage during the opening. The ensemble of Players frequently danced into the aisles and even invited the audience to sing along with one of the larger numbers, "No Time at All."
Audience favorite Jason Pate, playing Pippin, had an obvious command over the stage with quick comedic timing and a sincere, lovable characterization. Pippin's stepmother, Fastrada (Megan Hardgrove), generated the most applause and even summoned loud whistles with her alluring rendition of "Spread a Little Sunshine."
The Leading Player (Jeremy Lightfoot) lighted up the stage with impressive Fosse-like dancing skills and jazzy vocals. The addition of Leading Player to Roger Hirson's script was made by original director/choreographer Fosse, who aimed to add a darker force to the show -- which Lightfoot had difficulty portraying, being more of a showman.
The most commanding voice coming from the stage was that of the lively ensemble, making up for the voices of some of the weaker principal singers. The most impressive element of Magruder's "Pippin" also came from the Players, with skillful and neatly synchronized dancing.
The show was well choreographed, mirroring Fosse's signature style. With intense showmanship and impressive staging, Magruder's "Pippin" was an enjoyable experience overall.
Magruder High School's recent production of "Pippin" grabbed the audience's attention from the start and kept it the whole night. Creative costumes, makeup, choreography and audience involvement made people feel like they were one of the Players.
The show takes a modern view of 8th-century France during the reign of Charlemagne (Gavin Schmidt). It tells of Prince Pippin (Jason Pate), who is searching for fulfillment. Interesting technical aspects as well as energetic actors made the performance enjoyable even though it had a few minor shortcomings.
The Players immediately took hold of the audience's interest with a well-done, mystical opening. The ensemble acted as an extension of the audience. At one point, the audience directly participated in one of the songs. The students collecting tickets were in costume and makeup, making the mystical world even more real.
The lead actors also added a lot to the show. Pippin was one of the more multi-dimensional characters, and Pate did a great job in conveying the range of emotions and struggles that his character faced. He also had good chemistry with the other actors, particularly the Leading Player (Jeremy Lightfoot) and Catherine (Michele Favin). Fastrada (Megan Hardgrove), Lewis (Aaron Eastlack), Pippin and the Leading Player were also particularly good dancers.
Pam Freedy, who had the role of Pippin's grandmother, Berthe, was able to play a comic old woman and included the audience well in her song "No Time at All."
The audience reacted well to all the actors' body language and to the comedy. But at times the comedy undermined the darker scenes of the play and didn't allow the message to be fully conveyed. Despite this, the show engaged the audience, and the night was enjoyable for all who attended.