Pippin is a young prince who seeks passion and adventure in his life, yet who also searches for answers to the more important question, “How do I find the secret to a meaningful life?”
He is looking for a loving relationship, a path to follow to change the world, and way to find fulfillment. He is on a quest to prove that “some lives are meant to be extraordinary” — and to find his true self along the way.
When asked “Why “Pippin, why now?” director and choreographer Randy Snight says, “This is the perfect musical for teenagers to perform and see. It deals with the questions students think about all the time — how can I find happiness and lead a significant life through the choices I make?” Pippin is a musical by four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz. It boasts a melodious sound-track and delightful characters. The play debuted in 1972 on Broadway and its 2013 revival won four Tony Awards, one for Best Revival.
“Pippin” at Whitman High School is a must-see for its vitality, choreography and evocative message. “Everything on the stage in the creation of 200 kids and four adults,” says Snight. “We have an amazing array of talent with the actors, singers and dancers. The behind-the scenes support is also essential. We are fortunate to have the genius of the technical crew including our lighting and sound technicians, as well as the talented students who build the set and manage the stage during the performance. Equally important are the orchestra and musical support, the publicity and everyone who helps us to produce this play.”
Snight is making his Whitman High School directing debut — arriving with a vast amount of experience in the musical theatre arena. The fifth-generation Washingtonian studied with the Musical Theatre Center (formerly Adventure Theatre MTC,) graduated from the Blake High School Performing Arts program, and studied at Winthrop University in South Carolina where he was delighted to have the opportunity to choreograph, write, direct, and act.
He has studied dance for many years and has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Washington National Opera, the Synetic Theatre in Arlington and in community theatre. He has always loved the play “Pippin” and is pleased to be able to share his love of it with Whitman students and audiences.
The assistant director for “Pippin” is Allie O’Connor, assistant choreographer is Lily James, vocal director is Paige Rammelkamp and instrumental director is Terry Alvey. Stage Manager Luka Byrne oversees the set, lighting and sound from the planning stage on and during the play. “I manage the calling cues, set changes, lighting, and more,” he says. “I make certain that everything during the performance runs smoothly.”
The cast is made up of 35 actors and actresses. They are: Alex Aronie, Alex Dobbins, Allie O’Connor, Anna Kulbashny, Ari Goodfriend (Pippin), Bella Brody, Ben London (Charlemagne),Callia Chuang, Caroline Itzkoff, Caroline Liu, Delaney Taff, Eli Blanks (Lewis),Emily Deutchman, Emily Mayo, Eva Ginns (Bertha),Fenna Oliphant-Linden, Fiona Smith (Catherine), Gabe Caraballo, Hailee Swiggett, Isabella McDonald, Jackie Aronie, Joseph Kaplan, Kat Gorlenko, Kate Wayman, Kira Gandolfo (Fastrada), Lara Nobleman, Matthew Millin (Leading Player), Rachel Chen, Sam Nickerson, Sam Tarlov, Sammy Strent, Sunny Basau, Vera Zhong, and Zachary Lawrence (Theo).
Millin who plays the part of Leading Player is enjoying his character because he “has so much power and intensity. I find him challenging to play because it’s hard to figure out exactly how he thinks and why he acts as he does. I’ve had to think about it a lot before rehearsals.” Millin is a junior and has performed in many theatrical performances at Whitman and also at Imagination Stage.
Pippin’s stepmother Fastrada is played by senior Kira Gandolfo. “When playing this part, I have to be very animated and manipulative,” she says. “I have to act older, so I adjusted how I walk, hold myself and talk. It took me some time to figure out how to make myself into a credible older person.” She feels the best part of Whitman Drama is the community of friends she has made. “It’s such a social activity and also a team. We are all challenging ourselves to be the best — on and off stage. Performing is my life and the main reason I enjoy it so much is the people in the production. I think our bond shows when we are in the performance. We are close and have each other’s backs at all times.”
“Pippin” will be performed Thursday, Nov. 15 through Saturday evening, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $20 online at www.whitmandrama.com/pippin or at the door prior to the performance.