Pippin – Review by Tom Nissley

An excellent production of “PIPPIN” is playing at Playhouse on Park through August 21. Check for tickets at 860-523-5900 x10

Director/Choreographer Darlene Zoller and Associate Director Sean Harris have assembled a stellar cast to present the story of Charlemagne’s sensitive and disillusioned son, Pippin, who struggled to understand what his real purpose was and how to find self-assurance and satisfaction.

First Pippin decides to protest the idea that a good King must conquer others in warfare. Then he decides that if he was King, he would favor the little guys around him and ignore the Barons. It is perhaps in a dream that he agrees to kill his father and to be the King, but when he frees all the little guys and gives them the farms and flocks they have been caring for, they no longer provide wealth for the Barons, and the Barons cannot pay the taxes that keep the treasury going. In a wonderful reworking of that scene, his father comes back to life! And even forgives him for the killing (“Isn’t that just age-appropriate behavior? – all boys plan to kill their father”).

While he was searching for purpose, Pippin met a beautiful widow who wanted him to love her and run her estate. In retrospect, he realizes that linking up to her was a pleasure-giving experience, and he decides to accept her love and give her his. And they agree to live happily ever after.

So many persons in the company deserve mention. Too many. Shannon Cheong who plays Pippin. An agile Dalton Bertolone who is the Dance Captain. Gene Choquette who makes a statuesque Charlemagne, and Kate Wesler as Fastrada, his current wife. Brad Weatherford as an agile Lewis, Pippin’s half-brother. Theo Nguyen as a proud leading Player. Juliana Lamia as Catherine.

I particularly enjoyed Catherine’s advice to Pippin, when she said “I understand your grieving, and I know a lot about grief. When my husband was killed, I grieved for five days. But then I realized there are chores to be done… Life goes on!”

The Musical directors, Colin Britt and Melanie Guerin also deserve mention, as do the Lighting (Jackson Funke), Sound (Jeffry Salerno), Scenic (Johann Fitzpatrick), Costume (Vilinda McGregor) designers and Props Master Eileen O’Connor. Dana Rudnansky was Stage Manager.

Tom Nissley, the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre. August 12, 2022.