Check it out
Where: Brunelle Performance Hall at DHS, 315 W. 14th St.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 8-9, 15-16; 2 p.m. Nov. 10
Tickets: $ 16 general, $12 seniors, $10 students
Info: Visit dshs.djusd.net
The Davis High School drama department will present the recent Broadway revival musical, “Pippin,” this month in the Brunelle Performance Hall at DHS.
The show, set in the Middle Ages, draws from modern influences such as the new carnival themes, while staying true to its roots in naturalism.
Prince Pippin begins his journey going to war to please his father King Charlemagne. Throughout the play, Pippin desperately seeks the meaning of life, knowing he was born for a higher purpose. With the aid of a troupe of actors led by the dynamic Leading Player, Pippin grows to understand himself through romance and danger, realizing that his happiness mainly lies on the simple things of life.
Noah Papagni has the lead role of Pippin, and Devon Hayakawa is the Leading Player. Playing Charlemagne is Cole Yambrovich, supported by Clayton Johnston as Lewis, Shannon Mo as Fastrada, Mandy Chen as Berthe, Sarah Allen-Sutter as Catherine and Ryan Everitt as Theo.
The players will be performed by Camille Aguilar, Mia Alvarez, Sean Burnison-Lurins, Justine Cenzer, Daniel Chen, Geneva Duran, Amber Gizinos, Lois Kang, Janelle Kimzey, Megan Kraft, Daniel Merritt and Josh Garrett. The dancers will be Dustin Choi, Petra Favorite, Eleanor Campbell, Sophie Chertok, Daniel Cox, Aditya Tuladhar and Veronica Murillo.
Gwyneth Bruch is the director, and William Zinn is the musical director. Kathy Peter is the technical director, Samantha Reno is the set designer, Mary Hickman is the costumer and Arina Ushakova is the light designer. Students in the Davis High ROP stage craft class will manage set construction.
First produced in the early 1970s, the show’s Broadway revival in March 2013 brought much acclaim and success to the musical. “Pippin” remains the only show in the history of Broadway to have two actors of different genders win a Tony for the same character.
Bruch recalls choosing this musical due to its ’70s feel and her fond memories watching it.
“It’s got a lot of whimsy in it. The dancing is fun, the movement is fun … there’s a lot of hippie elements to the musical, which is fun,” Bruch said.
“Pippin” offers many new challenges to amateur and experienced actors alike, as many of the characters are much more conflicted and older than an average high school student.
Allen-Sutter — who portrays Pippin’s love interest Catherine — plays a single mother who takes pride in her ordinary and average life. This musical will be her first play, and she feels excited and eager.
“I am not a single mother … but this doesn’t mean (Catherine) isn’t a relatable character,” Allen-Sutter said. “I find myself able to relate to her on many levels, just not in her outright personality and lifestyle.”
Choreographer Cara Rains has incorporated Bob Fosse-style dancing into many of the numbers, adding to the magic and modern touch of the play.
“(There’s) some awesome dancing and a sprinkle of magic,” Allen-Sutter said. “So far, I’ve really been enjoying myself and it’s been a great experience. I’ve gained a lot more confidence.”
Yambrovich, a junior, also finds the age difference with his character a special challenge. Acting as King Charlemagne, the father of Pippin, Yambrovich will have to use the deeper tones of his voice, which he describes as funny yet terrifying.
“Playing a fatherly role is a new experience, but at the same time it is exciting because of the change of pace,” Yambrovich said. “It’s hard to relate to someone that has fought multiple battles and has had children … but I’m looking forward to wearing a sweet beard!
” ‘Pippin’ is different from other shows I’ve done because everything is outlandish and freaky but that just makes it really fun.”
The musical’ invites audience interaction as the fourth wall is broken, with the narrating Leading Player addressing the audience. Hayakawa, a junior, hopes to add dimension and humor to the pivotal character.
“I truly love performing and giving my audience a good time just like the Leading Player,” he said. “He’s a character who has sort of an obsession with the ‘perfect show’ and sometimes understanding the morals for this character is difficult. (The show) is very dance-based, while having to carry quite a few solos at the same time. But it’s definitely do-able!”
Papagni had mainly done smaller roles before being tapped for this lead. Bruch’s strong reaction to his audition (and many others) allowed for “Pippin” to become the first play to not require callbacks.
“Noah blew me out of the room, it was such an audition. I’m ecstatic,” Bruch said. “We have a wonderful cast. … All the directors agreed on every role; it was amazing. I feel like there’s very good karma wrapped up in the show.”
In addition to new faces on stage, Pippin debuts the designs of Mary Hickman, who has already done some work locally. Taking a more naturalistic interpretation, Bruch hopes to convey the simple lessons learned while removing some of the traditional aspects. The musical also has been revised to be more appropriate for family audiences.
Allen-Sutter sees this piece as the perfect stepping stone into theater, something she has always wanted to try.
“(My role) will help me get used to the stage, gain stage presence and learn how to develop a character,” Allen-Sutter said.
Though the roles are demanding and from a time period that most students cannot relate to, Bruch is confident they will rise to the challenge, finding many things in common regardless of age.
“Because, ultimately, Pippin’s search for his meaning in life really applies to all of us,” Bruch said. “He wants something greater, but in the end he discovers that maybe simple is OK, maybe just relationships and being an authentic person is enough, and you don’t have to go and win a war or be the hero or fly like an eagle, you can just be the best person in your life.”