PSU Theatre presents Pippin Oct. 20-23

October 6th, 2011 by Elizabeth

signPlymouth, N.H.The Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at Plymouth State University will present a modern interpretation of the musical Pippin, October 20-23 in the Hanaway Theatre at the Silver Center for the Arts.

Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the original Broadway show in 1972, starring Ben Vereen as “the Leading Player” and John Rubenstein as Pippin. The production addresses adult themes.

The musical uses the device of a mysterious acting troupe led by a “Leading Player” to follow a young prince, Pippin, eldest son of Charlemagne, through his quest to discover the secret of true significance and fulfillment. Pippin plows through obstacles, seeking that fulfillment in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh, and the intrigues of political power.

Adjunct faculty member Morgan Murphy directs the PSU production. Murphy is a film and theater producer, director, actor and instructor with Whitebridge Farm Productions, Plymouth State University and St. Paul’s School. He says, “If done the way Bob Fosse envisioned it, Pippin is surreal and disturbing. We’ve added today’s technology addiction to the array of obstacles and objectives thrown Pippin’s way in the original script. Facing this gauntlet, Pippin has to navigate his way to his own sense of identity and purpose…what does he want to be when he grows up?”

Murphy challenges the audience to consider trying to grow up today when we don’t have time to keep up with our smart phones, let alone figure out why we invented them, or why we buy them. “Perhaps you don’t have to use your imagination at all to recall this common technopoly we live in,” he says. “It can be worth turning it all off occasionally. That moment has always been in the  Pippin script, and it’s my favorite moment in the show. Pippin gets to taste simplicity when everything stops for a few seconds.”

The cast includes theatre arts majors Luke Meierdiercks, a junior from St. Johnsbury, Vt., portraying Pippin; Mervin Marvey a senior from Rustenburg, South Africa, portraying the Leading Player; Samantha St. Onge, a senior from Londonderry, portraying Catherine; Alyssa Dumas, a sophomore from Manchester, in the role of Fastrada; Ben Cesare, a junior from Boxborough, Mass., portraying King Charlemagne and Laura Daigle, a sophomore from Salem, portraying Berthe. DJ Spinelli, a senior psychology major from Chester, portrays Lewis and Sam Ebner, an 8th-grade student from Plymouth, portrays Theo.

PSU alumna Amanda Munton is the music director for Pippin, with Lisa Travis as choreographer and Gary Corcoran as conductor. Matt Kizer designed the set.

Matt Kizer photo

Kizer commented, “Morgan Murphy asked us to express this musical in a way that is pertinent to today’s audience. In addition to the issues that Pippin examines that are parallel to when it was first produced in the early 70s (the role of government, the need for war, love, sex, and identity), he wanted very much to make this a show about how we get lost in our own technology.

“Towards that end, as a design team working on scenery, costumes, and lights, we have played up the presence of technology in this production. The costumes are electrified and include digital media. The lighting is particularly elaborate, done by senior, Dan Hopper, who took it upon himself to get Electronic Theatre Controls to let us use a next-generation lighting console for this production to realize his vision.

“The set is made entirely out of rear-projection screen and reflective mylar, so that the entire thing lights up and behaves as a giant multimedia surface.

“This production provides a spectacular service to the dark, surreal, and original intention of the production. More, Morgan Murphy’s concept makes this a production about where we are today. Most importantly, though, the performance and the visuals are amazing.”

Performances are Oct. 20 and 22 at 8 p.m., October 21 at 7 p.m., October 22 at 2 p.m. and October 23 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for youth at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869.

General information about events at PSU is available at ThisWeek@PSU, http://thisweek.blogs.plymouth.edu.

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