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ISSUE 119 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/24/2006

'Pippin' pursues glory

By Margaret Wade
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 24, 2006

From February 6-18, Kelsey theater showcased the culmination of the Interim class, "Producing Theater." “Pippin” is the story of an extraordinary young man on a search for perfection and fulfillment. Never satisfied, Pippin says, "There has to be something more than this," after experimenting with war, sex and politics before discovering the power of love. This dark and magical musical captivated the audience with love songs, dismemberment, and even Chippendales.

Student director Tom Borger ’06 and Acting Professor Dona Werner Freeman had both dreamed of directing “Pippin” for years.

"Dona and I worked really well together, said Tom Borger. "We had a great division of labor."

The directors were intrigued by the underlying theme of disillusionment, which reveals the sentiments during the Vietnam War era during its original Broadway run in 1972, a theme that is especially pertinent to conflict in the world today. The story speaks to the Pippin in all of us, searching for meaning and self-realization.

In the original Broadway production, Pippin’s final lines were "I feel trapped, but happy, which isn't bad for the end of a musical comedy. Ta da!"

The St. Olaf production was more conscious to maintain the anti-glory message and cut out the flamboyant ending. They emphasized the theme of glory that imbues the work since Pippin is initially drawn to anything huge and flashy, but in the end, chooses an ordinary life instead of a spectacular finale.

At the conclusion of each show, there were some awkward laughs, as the audience did not know how to respond to the solemn ending. In the final scene the lead player, played by Max Wojtanowicz ‘06, asks Pippin to give himself as a human sacrifice to the “grand finale.” When Pippin refuses, the cast begins to dismantle the scenery until there is nothing left but a single spotlight on Pippin and his family.

The class, "Producing Theater," was a unique Interim experience since there was no homework (besides memorization) and they met at least eight hours a day. "Everyone shared the responsibility of the show," Daniel Greco ’09 said, "There was no gap between the actors and the crew."

A typical day for a member of the cast and crew of Pippin started at 9 a.m. They gathered on stage and warmed up with theater games, yoga and voice exercises. The morning block was spent working on choreography or the set.

The afternoon was spent on scene work until rehearsal ended at 5p.m. The long days did not faze the actors, "All January, we were all just having fun together," Wojtanowicz said.

Reflecting on the experience, many of the actors agreed on the incredible community that developed.

"I like the unity and group bonding that we felt in Pippin" Jake Mahler ‘07 said. "The last performance was bittersweet. We are a family, it’s hard to separate now that it’s over."

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