McKenna Theatre was bursting with energy as The Miami Theatre Players’ dress rehearsal began, with props being moved to and fro and cast members chatting amiably amongst one another.
The student-run group, which performs one musical per semester, have chosen the story of the young Prince Pippin to dazzle their audiences.
“Pippin” premiers in McKenna Theatre at SUNY New Paltz this weekend on Thursday, Nov. 30. The show chronicles Pippin’s journey through tribulations of war, kingship and self-reflection. The prince’s story is presented and manipulated by the Leading Player and other members of a mysterious sideshow troupe. Pippin’s personal narrative is one of self-discovery and struggle to find his place in the world.
The all-student cast is under the direction of Kevin Burns, a third-year public relations major.
“Pippin is so fun! It really is a hilarious show. But while it’s hilarious, I also always say you could teach a college production on the show because there’s so many layers to it,” Burns said. “When people ask me what it’s about, I like to compare the plot to a wedding cake. The base of the show, the biggest layer of that wedding cake, is just Pippin searching for his purpose in life. That’s an overriding theme throughout the entire show.”
Burns elaborated on the plot of the musical, which has more introspective elements than one may expect.
“Pippin knows that he is this extraordinary person, but he just doesn’t know what his purpose is,” he said. “So the show follows him trying all of these different things to try and figure out what his purpose is himself.”
First-year theatre arts major Matthew Moment portrays the character of Pippin. He discussed the significance of Pippin’s personal quest.
“It is a piece of theatre that is extremely relevant to all audiences,” Moment said. “We all struggle with our search for meaning, and I think that the show addresses that.”
Troy Burkett, a third-year theatre arts major, portrays the Leading Player. He described the role of the pivotal, often mysterious, character.
“The Leading Player is more or less the ringleader of the show. On stage he presents himself very well, but behind the scenes he’s much more conniving than one would expect,” he said. “His role in the show is to move along the story plot in hopes to successfully complete the ‘finale.’”
The Miami Theatre Players offer something fresh because it is a student-run production. Although the group deals with the drawbacks of a non-permanent set and a modest budget, the shows always have an indescribable charm about them, according to members.
Burns describes the experience of student actors closely collaborating as being invaluable and a source of massive opportunity.
“I think it’s nice to see students you wouldn’t expect to be on the stage performing and to have all this talent and have it be up to par with a professional production,” he said.
Moment also remarked on the uniqueness of what the Miami Theatre Players do.
“There is a lovely energy that comes with shows that are entirely student run,” he said. “What’s lacked in experience is made up for in youthful innovation.”
“Pippin” premiers Thursday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. at McKenna Theatre. It is also playing Friday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m.
Moment finished with an uplifting reflection, saying, “I think that one of the most beautiful things about putting on a show is that it is a group of different people coming together, and making the conscious decision to work together for one common goal.”