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08Nov

Pippin - W. T. Woodson High School - Fairfax, Virginia - November 4, 2017

Molly Metzler

Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School

 

Plays were played, parts were performed, hearts were warmed, and magic was certainly done at Woodson High School's production of Pippin. The premise of the show is relatively simple: our titular hero desires to find his corner of the sky or, rather, the thing that will give his life meaning. The son of Charlemagne searches for meaning in religion and revolution, women and war, and fine arts and family life. Pippin's quest is relatable for any human being, but the acting from leading man Jack Hopewell makes one feel the desperation of his character and yearn for a remarkable purpose among the common folk. Hopewell had the audience in the palm of his hand after his brilliant number "Corner of the Sky" and continuously impressed the audience with his impeccable singing and emotion.

 

One critical creative liberty was executed confidently in this rendition of Pippin: the leading player character was split into a man and woman, a dynamic duo that guided Pippin on his journey. The high energy and attitude from Nick Dache and Sydney Cluff kept the audience on the edge of their seats and the other characters on their toes as they comically interrupted dramatic scenes and contributed their own thoughts and quips. While the relationship between the two certainly worked well, Dache, a man of amazing talent and ability, shined in a role that seemed made just for him. No one can forget the powerful opening of the second act in the song "On the Right Track" when Dache flipped into our hearts with such enthusiasm and charisma. It was truly a memorable performance.

 

A notable feature of Pippin was the use of lighting in the various scenes that paralleled the actions or emotions of the characters on stage, such as the sudden flash of red when Pippen murders his father, the light orange, reminiscent of a sunrise, during the song "Morning Glow," and the deep and mesmerizing blue as women's silhouettes danced against the dark background during "With You."

 

Hearts soared as many notable and comedic characters left their mark on the production, such as Pippin's grandmother, Berthe (Mavis Manaloto), with her Gregorian chant sing-a-long, King Charles (Calvin Osorio) with his dry wit and lovable personality, and Lewis (Michael Richardson), a dumb jock who tripped every time he exited the stage.     

 

Woodson accomplished something magical in its beautiful interpretation with its phenomenal acting and deep emotion. A show must be measured based on its influence on the viewer and this viewer was heavily influenced by the formation of thoughts about true purpose and satisfaction in this earthly life. While the show ended with Pippin accepting an ordinary life, the school put on an extraordinary performance.   


Alexa Schwartzman

Oakton High School

 

Exciting, mystic, and exotic…there is lots of 1930's movie magic to do in Woodson High School's rendition of Pippin. An empowering orchestra, color-coordinated lights, magnificent voices, and epic performers made the audience want to start livin' as they brought this show to life.

 

Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson originally wrote Pippin, while Schwartz was a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Bob Fosse directed the first Broadway adaptation, which has been revived many times and won multiple Tony Awards for its excellence. The tale follows a conflicted prince, Pippin, in his search to discover life's purpose. Set in Hollywood, the show bounces between Pippin's internal, familial, and commitment issues, and the pressures of show-biz. From the battle field to a small estate to a cinema set, Pippin is somehow able to spread a little sunshine in his depressing battle between his desire for life's simple joys and glory.

 

Lead actor Jack Hopewell's smooth vocals and hopeful glow in Corner of the Sky immediately grabbed the audience's attention as he portrayed Pippin. He maintained excellence through shirtless harassment, romantic pressures, and inward battles. The Leading Players, Nick Daché and Sydney Cluff, outlined his story with phenomenal voices and spectacular back flips. Nick's character arc, from a flashy director to a creepy devil-like persona, seamlessly pushed Pippin along his path and emphasized the show's idea that not everything is truly as it seems. Karlee Skaggs brought a quirky, lovable charm to Pippin's love interest, Catherine. Eager eyes and restless arms exemplified her energy while she sang There He Was and Love Song. Lastly, Mavis Manaloto and her cute, high pitched, polished voice fit perfectly into her role as grandmother Berthe. Her bubbly charisma enticed the audience to join in her song, No Time at All. The cast was dedicated to their characters' physical mannerisms and layered emotions, filling every corner of the sky with talent.

 

A remarkable orchestra captured everyone's attention as it accentuated the mood of each moment and guided the songs. Even at the end, as the Leading Players were shutting it down, the orchestra kept its appeal. The set in the second act gave an adorable, small town feel. Having a brightly painted countryside, and even a wheelbarrow filled with hay, reflected Catherine's sweet personality, while accurately depicting the very different life-style to which Pippin was accustomed. Professional stage management skills were apparent in the finale, when curtains opened to reveal a bare stage, meaning that each set piece and prop had been organized elsewhere. Finally, the creative lighting was one of the simple joys of the show. A red glow during battle, a blue glow during Pippin's guilty moment afterwards, and a yellow glow at the dawn of his new crowned kingship, highlighted the varying tones of the musical.

 

Although Pippin didn't fulfill his initial intentions, the show lived up to the audience's expectations. This paradoxical summation of the notion of stardom left the crowd full of wonder and hope that Pippin was going on the right track.

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