Pippin – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Pippin is many things to many people. His name signifies one of the Hobbits who joins Frode on his quest to follow the Fellowship of the Ring, a yellowish apple with a rare, wine like flavor, a brand of computer created by Apple to play CD games and the eldest son of one of the world’s greatest emperors, Charlemagne. Summer Theatre of New Canaan is giving special attention to only the last Pippin, the offspring of Charles the Great, in its sparkling, spangled and spectacular reimagined production of “Pippin” by Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson.

Running to Sunday, July 28, “Pippin” is a razzle-dazzle menagerie of fantastic figures, a mysterious and mystical journey to an exotic spot that promises other-worldly, miraculous and magical events.

We meet Pippin, played with wide eyed idealism by Zach Schanne, who has just graduated from the University of Padua and is actively searching to discover a life that is not common place or ordinary, but rather completely fulfilling. To that end, he enlists the aid of his father Charlemagne, Frank Mastrone, a gruff and self-absorbed king, his alluring step mother Fastrada, Jodi Stevens, who only wants to promote the well being of her own progeny Lewis, a battle ready Omen Sade, and the Leading Player or Master Showman, an engagingly fascinating Melissa Victor, who could easily be mistaken for the devil or an angel.

Another important person in Pippin’s world is his grandmother Berthe, Janelle Robinson, who sings him a lovely song about not worrying and just living, “No Time at All,” that the audience is invited to share. A love interest is introduced with the widow Catherine, Ella Raymond and her child Theo, alternately played by Julia Desai and Josh Rosenberry, but Pippin, who has already tried to find his way in the arts, religion and even to unseat his ruler father is still not satisfied. Allegra Libonati and Christian Libonati, sister and brother, most cleverly direct this coming-of-age story as Pippin searches for his true calling, his corner of the sky.

With unique costuming and makeup reminiscent of Tarot cards designed by Orli Nativ, wild dance movements courtesy of Doug Shankman, exquisite lighting effects by Colleen Doherty, compelling sound by Ian Loftis, a theater in the round set created by Brad Caleb Lee and spirited music directed by Kenneth Cartman, this production is over-the-top wonderful. An outstanding ensemble includes Matthew Aaron-Liotine, Erica Perez-Barton, Kelcey Matheny, Donovan Mendelovitz, Graham Mortier and Samantha Sayah. It is being held in the big white tent behind the New Canaan Library on 56 South Street Street, with free parking near by.

For tickets ($29-69), call Summer Theatre of New Canaan at 203-966-4634 or online at www.stonc.org. Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. There will be a Wednesday show at 8 p.m. on July 24. STONC is also offering children’s shows, “The Light Princess,” at 11a.m. on Sundays until July 28 as well as a two man performance by Bros Do Prose, a world premiere of “Treasure Island,” 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday from July 1 to 28 ($22-30).

Keep your eyes glued on the imaginative center ring as Pippin rides off into the world to capture his destiny in every magical and mysterious way possible.