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Review: PIPPIN Brings Magic to New Canaan

Review: PIPPIN Brings Magic to New Canaan

There's magic under the big tent in the Summer Theatre of New Canaan's production of Pippin, thanks to an extraordinary cast and Allegra Libonati and Christian Libonati's skillful direction.

Pippin, the 1972 musical which was written by the late Roger O. Hirson with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, remains fresh. For those who have never seen it, it's a great opportunity to see it this month in STONC's new location close to downtown New Canaan. The show opens with the Leading Player (Melissa Victor) telling the story of Pippin (Zach Schanne), son of Charlemagne (Frank Mastrone) as he returns home from university and is ready to seek his "Corner in the Sky." That journey of looking for meaning in life includes trying to be a warrior, the temptations of the flesh, trying to please everyone as the new king and, finally, living a humble life doing boring farm chores. Other characters include the scheme queen Fastrada (Jodi Stevens), her son Lewis (Omen Sade), Pippin's grandmother Berthe (Janelle A. Robinson), the widow Catherine (Ella Raymont), and her son, Theo (played by Josh Rosenberry and Julia Desai). The rest of the cast are magnificent dancers Anna Becker (Death), Erica Perez-Barton (High Priestess), Matthew Aaron Liotine (The Sun/Dance Captain), Kelcey Matheny (The Moon), Donovan Mendelovitz and Graham Mortier (Devil), and Samantha Sayah (Temperance). The majority of the cast members are members of Actors Equity Association, and their professionalism shows.

Kudos also to choreographer Doug Shankman, scenic designer Brad Caleb Lee, lighting designer Colleen Doherty, music director Kenneth Gartman, and costume designer Ori Nativ. People who saw the original Broadway production of Pippin will forever associate the choreography with Bob Fosse, but Shankman makes the choreography original and dynamic. Lee's brilliant set design includes simple moveable marbleized benches and a labyrinth on which audience members are invited to walk before the show begins so they can reflect and experience healing, acceptance, peace, and strength.

The bad news is that after July 28, the tent goes down until next summer. The good news is that until then STONC also has weekend shows for kids - The Light Princess and Treasure Island, a world premiere. On July 15, there is A Night of Stars in concert and on July 23 Thomas Ortiz Dance. STONC recently relocated its tent to 56 South Avenue in downtown New Canaan, right next to the New Canaan Public Library. There is plenty of free parking. For more information, call (203) 966 - 4634 or visit

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