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BWW Review: PIPPIN at Actorsingers Turns Real Life into a Fantasy!

BWW Review: PIPPIN at Actorsingers Turns Real Life into a Fantasy!

There's nothing more magical than the colorful, fantastic world of your dreams, and the Actorsingers' production of Pippin brought the world of your dreams on the stage! Hirson and Schwartz's Pippin is a fantastical dive into the world of imagination and potential trap of dreaming. When faced with the ambition of wanting an extraordinary life that completely fulfills his soul, Pippin finds himself feeling nothing but discontentment. In a show filled with spectacle that needs to be created, music that demands accuracy, and dance that requires intense amount of practice, the cast and crew- under the direction of Donna O'Bryant- were able to play to their strengths to dazzle the audience and lure them into this journey.

The first thing an audience sees is the set, meaning the set is the production's first chance transport the audience to the world of the play. The basic set, which was present for nearly the length of the performance, contained multiple levels and depths that added a third dimension to a relatively flat proscenium stage. Not only was the set interesting to look at, it was also functional: the characters were constantly interacting with the nooks and crannies and stairs and walkways to go from one place to another with ease, creating the illusion of a limitless playing space. The set was well utilized by the characters and supported the dream-like feel of the play; standing out with its many colors and textures, yet blending in with the costumes and lights to create a magical atmosphere.

Speaking of lights, after the set, lighting is usually the second most notable source of spectacle in a production, and this production definitely made use of their color-changing LEDs to bathe the stage in a bold rainbow of colors. The use of color in this show is essential because the script requires the audience to be so enthralled with the colors that when the Leading Player, performed by Aly Aramento, orders that the colors be taken out and for Pippin, Catherine, and Theo to experience the flatness of plain white for the first time, the audience can't help but feel the same sensation of melancholy as the trio as they realize just how bare their surroundings look without the bright red and deep greens and endless yellows of fantasy. This realization is just as important for the audience make as the characters on stage, and Actorsingers managed to make this moment the most striking- which is a feat to be commended in such a bold and out-there performance.

The last major aspect of spectacle that the audience needs to be sucked into Dreamland is the actors themselves: Their costumes, energies, and performances- as individuals and an ensemble alike- can make or break the atmosphere that the designers tried so desperately to create. The costumes, designed by Jake Egan were fantastical, unique, and yet managed to fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Each character was their own and yet they worked cohesively as an ensemble. The dangers with focusing an ensemble on having their own individual personalities is that everyone begins to make themselves stand out. The portion of the performance where this was most evident was in the dancing. It was clear which of the ensemble were trained dancers because they were always front and center in the group numbers, or dancing together in the smaller dance highlights. Those who were less trained in dance were less confident and it was evident. They were often in the back or off to the sides and the quality of the dance could be traced from side to side. Had the cast had a few more weeks of dance-intensive rehearsals, those who were less confident could have ironed out the kinks and made a more uniform ensemble.

Their strongest suit was in their singing. The vocals were phenomenal! Each song's harmonies were sharp, clean, and powerful, leaving the audience with chills running down their spines. The Leading Player and Pippin, played by Aramento and Eric Berthiaume respectively, led the charge with their powerful and accurate vocals. Their voices stood out as being near-perfect and yet, when harmonies were concerned, blended in with the rest of the ensemble which creating an astounding sense of uniformity that left the audience speechless.

Overall, Pippin lured the audience into a world of dreams and an imagination run wild, with tons of support from the production crew, creating an irresistible world of song and dance that anyone would want to belong to. This uniformity created a desire within the audience, who began to collapse alongside Pippin when his dreams began to fade away. The cast and crew of Actorsingers's production of Pippin definitely played to their strengths and combined them well which made some of the lacking aspects of the performance- or the audio issues caused by performing in a space not designed to enhance audio quality from the small handful of speakers along the proscenium- less of an issue for the average theatregoer who wanted to be transported to a world of fantasy- and they got exactly what they wanted.

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From This Author Jared Reynolds