Disembodied hands reach out from the darkness, seeking to draw an unsuspecting, ordinary person from the audience into their clutches. Such was the opening of Edison High School’s production of Stephan Schwartz’s "Pippin."
"Pippin" is the story of the oldest son of Charlemagne, trapped in a life of despair. Like all heroes, Pippin has a quest, to find his “corner of the sky,” his purpose. He looks for personal fulfillment in all the usual ways: war, drugs, sex, politics and the simple life. Yet none of these activities offer an answer to Pippin’s desire for an extraordinary life. Fortunately, the Players who have guided his quest have an answer in the ultimate climax: death.
The role of the Lead Player (narrator) was shared by Zach Burley, Mende Jo Wenztel and Nana Amoah Jr. Each Player enjoyed a solo song that captured the audience’s interest, yet the three also worked well together, as in the opening number, “Magic to Do.” The three deftly handed off the role between scenes, even within numbers.
As Pippin’s half-brother Lewis and stepmother Fastrada, Jay Terry and Alexx Hall exemplified dedication to their roles, never breaking character or losing energy. These two captured the audience’s interest, providing a welcome source of comic relief.
Student choreographer Christina Tucker did an admirable job of expressing the style of the late choreographer, Bob Fosse, who choreographed the original show. The ensemble cast showed tremendous energy throughout the show, creating group scenes that were enjoyable to watch. Each managed to create a unique character, while no one person ever pulled focus from the group.
The costumes, designed by Nicki Merz and Abbey Cantolina, were simple black pants, stockings and leotards, which with the addition of a hat, tunic or a sash would create an entirely new character when needed. The actors were also well served by the clever make-up designed by Ashley Bradfield.
The cast and crew of "Pippin" worked their magic on the audience and truly did find their “Corner of the Sky.”
Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas.