Seen here in rehearsal for PIPPIN at Curtain Call's Kweskin Theatre, are Patrick Agonito (center) as the title character and Kristen Muller (left) and Dante DiFederico as Leading Players. PIPPIN will play August 2 through 12; Wednesday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Matinees at 2 p.m., August 6 and 12. (contributed photo)
There's "Magic to Do" at Curtain Call in Stamford, when PIPPIN, the 1972 Tony Award-winning musical, plays in The Kweskin Theatre, August 2 through 12. PIPPIN has been thrilling audiences since then with its unforgettable score by Connecticut resident Stephen Schwartz.
PIPPIN tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. A troupe of dancers tells the story in this stylized musical of Pippin’s quest for true happiness. PIPPIN, explores the glories of war, the temptations of love, and the intrigues of political power before discovering that happiness lies not in the extraordinary, but in the ordinary moments of every day. The story explores the struggles of young Prince Pippin against his father, a tyrannical king. The responsibility of leading the Holy Roman Empire leaves Pippin lost and confused, so he leaves his post in search of something more fulfilling. Soon a young widow named Catherine, comes into Pippin’s life with her child Theo, and Pippin explores life as a part of a family. Will he choose a happy but simple life? Or will he risk everything for a singular flash of glory? (The show contains adult themes and suggestive dance style, so it would likely be rated PG-13. )
"I was fortunate to see the original Broadway production while in high school, and absolutely fell in love with the score," said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call executive director and producer for PIPPIN. "I think it's great having kids who were around my age then, performing this award-winning musical." Ursone also added that the creative team, including director, Joel Fenster, music director, Eric K. Johnston, and choreographer, Emily Frangipane, have created a magical experience for this group of more than 50 young artists working on and off the stage.
Those familiar with the musical may be surprised to see two actors sharing the role of Leading Player, originated by Ben Vereen. With the OK from Stephen Schwartz, the creative team decided to work a little magic of their own by having two actors work as the manipulative leading player. "I think it works really, really well," Ursone said.
Fenster said, "It’s been great working with such a talented group of kids. This was the first time I’ve gone through an audition process where we had too many people to choose from. It was a good thing, but made decisions much harder to narrow our choices down to cast a show that normally isn’t done with an ensemble this large. The kids in the cast are all highly talented and highly motivated. In the 17 plus years I’ve been doing community theater I can’t think of a cast that has been so dedicated and on top of everything."
One of the many beautiful and soaring ballads in the show, "Corner of the Sky", could be an anthem for any of the young performers as they try to find their way in the world. Fenster added, "Sure Pippin may be a young man in his late teens/early twenties, but I’m a stay at home dad in his late 40s who is still trying to find his “corner of the sky”.
This is Curtain Call's 27th year of providing a summer youth musical program for the area. Ursone, and Curtain Call education director, Brian Bianco, both began their arts careers in programs like this and truly enjoy passing the torch to another generation of young artists. Their excitement is clear in how they speak of this program, funded in part by GenRe, the CT Office of the Arts and in cooperation with The City of Stamford.
PIPPIN will play in The Kweskin Theatre from August 2 through 12; Wednesday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Matinees at 2 p.m., August 6 and 12. Regular prices are $32 for adults, $25 for senior citizens and $16 for children (up to age 21). Wednesday and Thursday evenings – all seats $25. Box Office: 203-461-6358 or online at www.curtaincallinc.com.