‘Pippin”s promise: new cast, creativity, and choreography


Photo by Jack Krowczyk

Ms. Gray and the crew of “Pippin” at dance rehearsal.

Musical season is back in swing at Viator, with the annual winter musical for 2022 being “Pippin.” “Pippin,” created in 1972 by Bob Fosse and Roger O. Hirson, and composed by Stephen Schwartz, is about a young man named Pippin who is trying to discover what he wants in life. So, he experiments in—and learns through—war, politics, love, and lust. The musical was recently revived in 2013 with a unique new circus theme being added. Along with the retheming, some songs were changed and the leading player, originally a boy, was changed to a female. The school will similarly reinvent this musical unconventionally in the standards of previous productions.
“Pippin has been one of my favorite musicals ever since I saw my brother perform in it in high school,” said musical director and theater teacher Ms. Megan Gray. “Since then I’ve seen other high schools perform it, regional theatre productions in Chicago, and I’ve even seen it on Broadway—each interpretation has been different, but Stephen Schwartz’s beautiful music and the important story never changes.”
“This year is definitely a bit different but I think [it’s] a good kind of different,” said senior and Lead Player Claire Capra. “The show itself is something that Viator hasn’t seen, and I think it’s good because it will expose the community to something new. It’s a great opportunity to learn about what else there is beyond classics and develop artistic taste. It’s funny, chilling, and overall such a fantastic show.”
Last year, those who participated in the musical “Into the Woods” had to perform outside and masked. This year, however, the crew is finally allowed back inside the iconic theater to perform, just in a smaller cast overall. The school’s production is going far and beyond with the creative liberties. Ms. Gray, Director of the musical, and Mr. Nick Gray, Ms. Gray’s brother and new choreographer, have gone beyond what they can do with “Pippin,” already having hosted a ten hour dance rehearsal. Students have gone through weeks of training to learn new choreography, yet have kept up an unmeasurable exuberance through it all.
“Pippin tells the story of a young man who’s not sure what he wants to do with his life, a story I find relatable to a lot of high school students, so a group of “players” show him a variety of different paths he can choose,” said Ms. Gray. “In the end, Pippin realizes that he doesn’t need to do something extraordinary or life-changing to have a meaningful and fulfilling life, which is an important reminder I think that many of us need sometimes. It’s okay to just slow down and enjoy the small, simple acts of day-to-day life and spend time with the ones you love—those are the moments that make life worth living.”
“I am very excited to be involved in the show this year as a leading dancer, but I am also anxious because I am going a little out of my comfort zone with this role which means that I have a lot of hard work to put in these next few months,” said senior and featured ensemble cast member Erin Cavender.
The school has welcomed back an ensemble, with 15 students working extremely hard for their winter debut. This year’s show will also be quite interesting due to its mere 11 student leads, some being double casted for one role. Besides the actors, PIPPIN’s tech crew is working with many complicated sets and props for the productions. Luckily, with four stage managers this year, everything is looking bright for a smooth and quick production.
“I’m really excited to stage manage the musical again this year,” said senior and stage manager Olivia Tortorella. “The musical is full of some of my best friends and it is always really fun to spend time with them and put on an incredible show!”
With all this creativity in the hands of the production, there sure is “magic to do” in February!
“I’m really looking forward to working with this cast and production staff because they truly are just such amazing people,” said Capra. “They’ve got some fun tricks up their sleeves, [but] I don’t want to reveal too much.”