TAP To Present ‘Pippin’

TAP To Present ‘Pippin’

Musical follows young prince as he encounters love, glory, and war in search of meaning of life.

Jonathan Mark Gruich and Lottye Olivia Lockhart rehearse for a scene from "Pippin."

Jonathan Mark Gruich and Lottye Olivia Lockhart rehearse for a scene from "Pippin." Photo contributed


Keith J. Miller, Jonathan Mark Gruich, Maura Lacy and Sterling Creighton Beard rehearse a scene from "Pippin."


Sterling Creighton Beard and Erica Aquilina rehearse a scene from "Pippin."

The Arlington Players (TAP) presents the musical, "Pippin," from Oct. 6 through Oct. 21, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre in Arlington. The Tony Award-winning musical follows the young prince, Pippin, as he encounters love, glory, and war in search of the meaning of life.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz ("Godspell," "Wicked") and a book by Roger O. Hirson, the Broadway show premiered at the Imperial Theater in New York City in 1972, and ran for 1,944 performances before closing in 1977. It was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse.

The TAP show is directed by Christopher Dykton ("A Little Night Music," "The Producers," and "Follies") and choreographed by John Monnett ("Nice Work If You Can Get It," "42nd Street," and "The Producers").

Dykton said "Pippin" is one of his favorite shows. "I love the story, which explores the journey that everyone of us goes through as a human being: what is the meaning of my life and how can I make my mark?" he said.

He said he wanted to go back to the roots of the piece and focus on telling it as a Medieval troupe of players telling a Medieval morality play. "Of course, I wanted to do it with an existential and modern twist," he said. "The imaging is Medieval and the staging uses the presentational style of early theater, but the journey is for every age, so there are touches of both today's sensibilities and universal themes."

He added: "Going through the temptations in life and ultimately embracing love, family, and humility in the end are good life lessons for us all. All of this is done with the context of a great musical."

He said the challenges as a director were making sure to have a creative and sophisticated cast that can act, sing, and dance is the key — and he was blessed with such a group. "They've worked very hard," he said.

"Also, integrating all the technical elements into a coherent whole is always a goal for me as directing, and that can only be done with really gifted and collegial designers," he said. "I'm fortunate that I have some of the best working on this production."

As far as audience takeaways, he said: "I'd love the audience to have a lot of fun and a bit of thought in remembering and exploring the meaning of life."

Patricia Rupinen is playing the role of Catherine, who is described as a widow who has a young son and a large estate. "She's the quintessential loving, caring mother, and a good juxtaposition to many of the other less-well-intentioned players. I think she's extremely realistic and relatable, and reminds me of myself in most ways," she said.

She said this is her first non-ensemble role since over a decade ago, when she was in high school. "Everyone in this cast is exceptionally talented, and while it makes playing off them easy, it's definitely been a bit intimidating," she said. "Getting past this imposter syndrome has been a bit of a challenge, but I wouldn't trade this show for the world."

She added: "I hope everyone comes away from this show realizing they are not alone. Everyone struggles with finding their purpose in life, and part of living is having those experiences and making those discoveries. In the end though, love really does conquer all."

Kelly Dobkins, who plays one of The Players, said, "'Pippin' provides an interesting mixture of playing a part and playing an actor playing a part. When are you a player and when are you a player acting out a role within the Lead Player's show?"

"As a player, it was challenging and fun to play around with the different layers and elements of the play that you don't always get to do — like breaking the fourth wall and interacting directly with the audience," Dobkins said.

She added: "'Pippin' is a powerful story of a man trying to figure out what he's doing with his life. I think that's something many people can relate and connect to. Plus, it's a fun and haunting show that will hopefully make the audience think about what they are doing and what's going on with the world today. While theater can be an escape from reality, it can often remind us of the issues we are facing as a society."

The Arlington Players presents "Pippin" from Oct. 6 through Oct. 21. Tickets are $25/adult; $22/senior/military; and $15/child/student. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. The TAP venue is located at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre, 125 S. Old Glebe Road, Arlington. Visit www.thearlingtonplayers.org or call 703-549-1063.