The Arlington Players is presenting a zany and lively production of “Pippin,” now playing through October 21st at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. Finding oneself, and the meaning of life is serious business and frustrating, but to join the adventures and trek with the young Prince Pippin is delightfully entertaining.
As the curtains are drawn, the cast is already pulling the audience closer into their magic spell. The unique opening song, “Magic to Do” immediately allows audience engagement with funny and inviting anecdotes.
Pippin (Jonathan Gruich) experiences the trials of love, duty of war, highs and lows desperate to find meaning and something that will fulfill the emptiness Pippin deeply feels. Gruich shines during his performance as Pippin. He is lively and forever hopeful to finding the extraordinary life. Melanie Jennings-Bales as Berthe, the wise grandmother, has impeccable stage presence and packs a comedic punch as she wholeheartedly warns Pippin to be less serious and go about living.
Pippin is convinced that there is an extraordinary life to be lived! Society and the world around him, particularly Leading Player (Erich DiCenzo) has a strong hold on Pippin, reinforcing Pippin’s notion that the ordinary daily lives we all live is not enough; family, even the fun times frolicing with the many women, a love of his life, Catherine (Patty Rupinen) and Theo (Aidan Chomicki) are just not enough. DiCenzo as the Leading Player is a natural performer as he appears to be loving his role, leading Pippin into believing there must be more and something greater to fulfill the empty space Pippin carries with him. Rupien as Catherine is extremely believable as she expresses her deep feelings through her strong vocals and acting. Chomicki as Leo is the youngest cast member. Clearly a star is born as he effectively demonstrates wide ranges of emotions.
…zany and lively …delightfully entertaining.
Pippin’s introspective look at his own life as a young man with his whole life and world in front of him causes him to move from one life situation to the next. Pippin is driven and chaos continues as life happens and even worse he experiences regrets. Pippin challenges his father, the King and all he represents including his politics about the war, Charlemagne (Keith J. Miller) and Pippin is further encouraged to do so by his stepmother Fastrada (Carla Crawford) who is hoping that her son Lewis (Sterling Beard) may rein in the future. Much drama in this family is spilled out in this great story that everyone can connect with, as the story touches the heart and reminded me of my extraordinary blessings and how beautiful an ordinary life can be! Miller as Charlemagne was fabulous and humorous, especially as he is resurrected and Crawford played the devious wife to the letter.
The incredible music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz of “Godspell” and “Wicked” fame were faithfully presented by the talented ensemble and live musicians, led by musical director and conductor Blake Brophy. Director Christopher Dykton did a fine job at staging while choreographer John Monnett showed off some of the areas talented (and flexible) dancers.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hour running time with intermission.
“Pippin” by The Arlington Players runs through October 21 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre in Arlington, VA. For more information, click here.