By Laiken Harrigan
Elm Staff Writer
Unique from other performances at Washington College this year, “Pippin” the musical is coming to campus. Last week, the music department held open auditions for students and the show is set to take place on Feb. 22 and 23.
The musical will be held in Hotchkiss Recital Hall and, according to the Director and Music Department lecturer Ernest Green, the performers will be able to utilize the entire space. The cast is hoping to incorporate both the stage and aisles to connect with the audience and offer a new perspective on the show.
“Pippin” will be the first musical performed on campus this year. The live performance will be done in a studio fashion, and students, actors, and singers will be involved in performing the music and lyrics. The performance will include seven main acting and singing roles, with other small roles for the ensemble scenes.
“Pippin” is famously known for its explicit and elaborate choreography. When the play was written in 1972, Broadway theater at the time was far from conservative. Author Elizabeth Wollman noted in an interview with Soundcheck that in the 1970s it was common to see male and female frontal nudity on stage. This was a widely popular approach of the new generation.
“The youth movement in the 1960s was rejecting their parents and the previous generation as tastemakers,” she said.
The original production of “Pippin” conformed to the style of the time; it was dark. The violent and sexual themes that the story deals with have commonly been intensified through performance and staging choices.
“To me, the naughtiness of it was just a product of the era it was staged in. But ‘Pippin’ is so flexible in how you treat it,” Green said.
The WC take on the play will use a more “earthy approach,” focusing on the beautiful reality of the story at hand and less on the choreography and theatrics. In return, this performance will appeal to a broad demographic of viewers.
According to the Music Theater International website, the play is rooted in a plot that all of the “young at heart” can empathize with. The main character, Prince Pippin, takes on the adult world seeking happiness through war, power, and sex. In his quest, he finds heartache and distress when he cannot easily fulfill his desires.
The character faces trials that aren’t unlike the troubles of new adults today. The story raises questions about what it means to find a place in the world and how to become content with life.
Eventually, the overarching message of the play comes out when Pippin realizes that true happiness can’t be found in these huge ventures of love and war, and that rather it’s something found in the small moments of life.