This past week, McKenna Theatre opened its doors to showcase Miami Theater Players’ production of “Pippin.” The organization is audition based and roles were selected by E-board members. Prior to the curtain opening, president of Miami Theater Players, Giovanna Phipps thanked the audience for coming and prefaced the show’s alluring nature.
Typically, productions at universities can be hit or miss — it’s very difficult to pull off a successful show. After weeks of rehearsals in the dance studio and a very limited budget for props and costumes, Miami Theater Players tried their best to defy the doubts and create something magical. In deciding the production to be “Pippin,” there’s room for error. The show isn’t an easy one to execute, and well-fitting actors for roles aren’t the easiest to find. Amidst the hardship, the production went on to open its doors to the public.
The show began in usual fashion with the leading player taking to the stage to entice the audience about the show’s dramatic finale. First-year Olivia Hovis encompassed the role with over confidence and tried her best to keep the audience’s attention. Once the powerful ensemble trickled onto stage, it felt like the show had truly begun.
Pippin, the protagonist of the musical is typically depicted by a male actor, but this production strayed from norms and cast a female as the role — a truly wonderful decision. Second-year Sophie Stakhov did a fantastic job at depicting Pippin’s stature, while projecting perfect vocals throughout the theatre. The production wasn’t allowed to use microphones — but that was no issue for Stakhov, who kept the audience yearning for more.
“I cannot express my thanks to the cast, crew and team of this production,” remarked the director, AJ Kirby. “I have never met a group of humans more suited to trust with a dream, and not only to materialize it, but beautify it with an injection of soul and creativity that has been utterly transformational.”
The theme of “Pippin” is one that can’t quite be put into words. Essentially, the protagonist is searching for something fulfilling to fill the void of his life, whilst being taunted by a variety of different characters who are aware of everything that’s supposed to occur. Similar to “The Truman Show,” Pippin is unaware that the people he’s interacting with are actors toying with his life’s purpose. As the show progresses, the tension builds up until the audience is left in suspense.
Many different characters add to the creativity of the musical — each is extremely exaggerated for dramatic effect. A notable character, Pippin’s father, Charles, was a great source of comedic relief for the production. Joe Cartolano had a fantastic energy that radiated into the audience, and each time he was on stage he had everyone’s attention. From his dramatic annunciation of lines to the flamboyant stature of his body language, it was shown why he was chosen for the role; he executed it perfectly.
Pippin’s step-mother, Fastrada, portrayed by third-year visual arts and communications major, Angela Pepe also contributed to the comedic relief of the show. Her extravagant dress was transformed throughout the production, and her silly wig was a perfect addition to the ambiance. Her delivery of lines was hilarious, and the audience was joined together in laughter as she aimed to prove she’s an ordinary housewife and mother.
The entire production would’ve flopped if it wasn’t for the strong ensemble. Primarily a female dominated cast, they joined together to keep the story flowing and create the feeling they wanted the audience to have. The set was very minimal and costumes were mostly generic, so the energy created from the ensemble truly allowed the musical to be as wonderful as it was.
As a performer, the show genuinely looked fun to be a part of, and that’s admirable as an audience member to see performers having a good time. As the show had its final performance on Sunday Dec. 4, the cast was ready to relish in the standing ovation they received from the audience. Each respectively-named role took their own bow while the ensemble cheered them on from the sides of the stage. A very heartwarming experience to be a part of, congratulations to the Miami Theater Players on their successful fall 2022 production of “Pippin.”