Sure, it’s good to be the king. But it ain’t all razzle dazzle. And although Charlemagne doesn’t think his son Pippin is ready, Pippin is eager to prove himself ready to lead and feel the glory of war. Until he participates in one. And is struck by the tragedy, the carnage, the loss. Inspiring him to embark on an idealistic campaign with the promise that all problems can be solved easily. Which leads to despair, pain, and disillusionment. 

Will Pippin rise again to achieve a thrilling, grand finale destiny worthy of his birth, or disappear into the obscure darkness of the ordinary?

Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked) wrote the music and lyrics to go with Roger O. Hirson’s story that Bob Fosse’s hit Broadway production, and Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale, Arizona put up a phenomenal production of it under the expert direction of D. Scott Withers and featuring an immensely talented cast.

Leading that cast is, naturally, the Leading Player. Brian Wible gives a riveting performance as he commands the stage and the other players, determined there is Magic to Do, promising thrills and glory and all those things that make for remarkable lives and remarkable shows. He’s a great comedian but with an edge, a playmate with whom you’re guaranteed to have fun, but only so long as you play his game. Refuse to play his game, and he can be downright scary.

Cooper Hallstrom is the title character, and he nicely captures the adventuresome, boyish naivety of youth, the anguish of his loss of innocence, the disinterested moodiness that follows, and the final conflicting emotions as he makes his most important choice. His father Charles is played by Caleb Rock, an actor who masterfully combines exceptional comedic skills with powerful gravitas, switching from one to the other in a blink of an eye. Raven Woessner is Fastrada, a delightfully wicked stepmother in a costume with wicked wide hips who is wickedly obsessed with herself (andx also loves her son Lewis (Nick Olson) if he can be of use to her). Raven’s Spread a Little Sunshine number is a hoot, using body language and flair to demonstrate her love for herself (and plot a little murder all at the same time). Lizzie Baggleman is exiled Grandma Berthe, a lovable eccentric granny that leads the cast and audience in the fun-loving No Time At All.

In the second act we are introduced to a less spectacular side of Charlemagne’s kingdom in the form of single mom Catherine, her son Theo, and a doomed duck named Otto. Sydney Hawes has an impressive natural feel for this role, a gentle and patient mother hoping to bring Pippin back from his moody disillusionment that dominates his mind, doing so with genuineness and understated humor (when they cleverly start playing the theme to The Young and the Restless as she starts her soap opera-ish monologue, she says, “Oh thank you, how nice,” to the musicians with humorous sincerity). Her solo I Guess I’ll Miss the Man is poignant and real. Seventh grader Maxx Carlisle-King gives a good performance as her young son Theo, believable and fun and very much saddened for his sad and sickly duck (Brittney Peters), leading to the Prayer for the Duck number (after which the dead duck is dragged unceremoniously offstage).

Director D. Scott Withers has a brilliant vision for this show, hitting the drama and comedy with countless touches, small and large, his ultra-talented players making every moment count with excellent vocals and remarkable acting, aided by costume designer Adriana “Addy” Diaz’s marvelous and original creations, Gregory Jaye’s set, and Laurie Trygg’s choreography that always helps capture the spirit of the songs, develop the characters, and tell the story.

Performs March 27 - April 12, 2009

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Player: Alec Alabado
Player: Sandi Atkinson
Berthe: Lizzie Baggleman
Player: Will Bates
Player, Dance Captain: Cori Brown
Player: Beka Burnham
Theo: Maxx Carlisle-King
Player: Courtney Echols
Player: Melissa Greenberg
Pippin: Cooper Hallstrom
Catherine: Sydney Hawes
Player: Rhetta Kampel
Player: Alexander Khan
Player: Ryan Kitkowski
Player: Dallas Mogensen
Lewis: Nick Olson
Player: Brittney Peters
Player: Tyler Pounds
Charles: Caleb Rock
Player: Caitlin Stegemoller
Player: Karsten Tate
Leading Player: Brian Wible
Player: Libby Willis
Fastrada: Raven Woessner

Director: D. Scott Withers
Music Director: Mary Ellen Loose
Choreographer: Laurie Trygg
Production Stage Manager: Kristen Burkhardt
Technical Director: David Weiss
Scenic Designer: Gregory Jaye
Lighting Designer: Jon Gentry
Sound Designer: Scott Kirkorsky
Costume Designer: Adriana "Addy" Diaz
Hair/Make-up Designer: Johanna Carlisle
Properties Designer: Eric Chapman


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