Pictured: Sam Allen, Melissa Caracciolo, Nikolle Holland, and Ensemble.  (Photo by K.C. Holland )

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Emma Paquette, a student at McLean High School reviews “Pippin” performed by Dominion High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Smiling dancers in resplendent colors twirl about the stage, decapitated heads pleasantly carry on a trivial conversation with their killers, a king is resurrected with a mere wish, and a hapless young prince is trapped in the middle of this swirling madness. The enigmatic Leading Players are the mistresses of the chaos, driving the show along from scene to scene with malicious smirks ever-present on their decorated faces. Pippin is doomed from the start. Dominion High School, however, did not share his fate in their striking production of Pippin.

Pippin, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and originally direction and choreography by Bob Fosse, first opened on Broadway in 1972. It won several Tony Awards, including Best Lead Actor in a Musical and Best Choreography, and was nominated for many more. The show utilizes a mysterious acting troupe that frequently breaks the fourth wall to tell the galvanizing story of Pippin, the eldest son of Charlemagne, and his fruitless search for his ‘corner of the sky’. While both Pippin and Charlemagne are based off actual historical figures, the play presents many purposeful anachronisms during the exhibition of their tale.

Guiding the show from commencement to conclusion were the malevolent Leading Players (Melissa Caracciolo and Nikolle Holland). The two girls must be commended for enthusiastically portraying a part that is traditionally portrayed by a solo male. However, the real heart of the show was Pippin (Sam Allen) whose enchanting voice enraptured the audience from his inaugural note in the absolutely gorgeous “Corner of the Sky”. His vocal frills and passionate tone were refreshing to hear in a cast that sometimes struggled with pitch. His voice also sublimely complimented romantic interest, Catherine’s (Kaitlyn Salazar), and many beautiful harmonies were incorporated during their striking duet.

The supporting cast was filled with engaging additions to the show. The devious mother-son duo of Fastrada (Taylor Allewelt) and Lewis (James Allen) was also a delight to watch, their verging on incestuous relationship constructing some of the most convivial yet delightfully uncomfortable moments of the show. Allewelt was particularly talented, dedicating herself to the extreme ridiculousness of her character with an energy that was unmatched by anyone in the large cast. Charles (Cody Ferry) was also amusing, throwing out uproariously crass lines with a casual smile and a teasing wink.

Tech was clean overall, although it occasionally lapsed in a few areas. The sparkly make-up of the players added wonderfully to their kaleidoscopic appearances and flamboyant presence. Lighting sometimes struggled with spotlights, but still successfully illuminated the actors throughout the performance. The orchestra, however, was truly remarkable, fearlessly flying through the notes with no hesitation.

Happiness is not only found in doing extraordinary things. True contentment can be reached with the most mundane of moments and in the most customary people. Pippin’s trials to find the meaning in his existence is meant to illustrate this fact, as his hunt for a purpose only piles more troubles onto his already burdened shoulders. Dominion High School admirably conveyed this poignant message in their believable production of Pippin.