School’s theater program presents ‘Pippin’ this weekend
Oct, 27, 2011
By Luke Baynes
The Stephen Schwartz musical “Pippin” is best known for its successful Broadway run under the direction of Bob Fosse, but a lesser known fact is that it began as a student production at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh — making its revival at Champlain Valley Union High School a homecoming of sorts to the scholastic stage.
The CVU Co-Curricular Theatre Program will present three performances of “Pippin” this weekend, beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. A second performance will be held Saturday evening at the same time, followed by a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
“Pippin,” set around 780 A.D., concerns a young prince who attempts to find meaning and purpose in life through a series of misadventures in war, romance and political revolution.
As CVU theatre program director Candy Padula pointed out, although the milieu of the show has little in common with the world of today’s teens, its themes are timeless.
“Pippin goes through an awful lot of angst,” Padula said. “He tries a bunch of different things, and he fails at several of them, but I think it’s very important for people to figure out what they don’t want to do as they’re on their own journey, (in order) to figure out what it is they want to do.”
Mikayla Morin, a CVU senior who plays the head of an acting troupe that serves as the show’s Greek chorus, agreed with her director.
“It’s a very thought-provoking play,” said Morin. “There’s this whole overlying question of what is the purpose of life. It’s sort of existential in a way.”
Morin, who plans to study writing and film acting in college, has bittersweet emotions about the production.
“I’m excited for the play — we have a lot of good comedy moments in it and a lot of really talented actors — but I’m a little sad,” Morin said. “I’m going to pursue writing when I go to college, so this is kind of like my last musical theater production, I think. But it’s kind of nice to go out with a leading role and to be able to be a big influence on the production that will possibly be my last.”
“Pippin” isn’t likely to be the last musical of Evan Cohen’s high school acting career. Cohen, who plays the title role, is still a junior.
“I’ve done the school show every year since seventh grade, and I’ve done a musical every year as well,” Cohen said. “It’s a blast. I’m having a lot of fun. There are a lot of cool people doing it (this year).”
One of those “cool” people is Cohen’s brother, Arlo. A freshman at CVU, the younger Cohen will perform a duet with his elder sibling.
“Arlo is playing Pippin’s love interest’s son, but they do have a little bit of a father-son relationship, which is very sweet,” Padula noted. “One thing that’s sort of funny to me is I gave away a really nice, fun Pippin song to what ended up being Evan’s younger brother.”
Padula said the show’s eclectic mix of production numbers, which include a go-go dancing performance and a vaudeville-style cane dance, will give the audience a little bit of everything.
“It’s not your traditional musical,” said Padula. “It’s such a varied offering of different styles of theater that I think there’s definitely something in there for everybody.”
The CVU cast will have a full dress rehearsal on Thursday, allowing them to get mentally prepared for opening night.
Evan Cohen, who said he has never come down with a serious case of stage fright, offered the following, simple piece of preparatory advice to his fellow cast members: “Sleep a lot. That helps.”
Tickets are $6 for CVU students, chrildren, faculty and staff; $8 for general admission. Tickets are available by completing the order form at cvuhs.org.