BWW Review: Conservatory Students Prove They Are on the Right Track in North Carolina Theatre's Production of PIPPIN

BWW Review: Conservatory Students Prove They Are on the Right Track in North Carolina Theatre's Production of PIPPIN

PIPPIN opened on Broadway in 1972 under the direction of legendary choreographer Bob Fosse. In 2013, the show was reimagined as a circus spectacle for the Tony Award-winning revival.

The North Carolina Theatre production of PIPPIN, showcasing the talents of its North Carolina Theatre Conservatory students, opens this weekend at The A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in Downtown Raleigh.

At the heart of this production, is the enthusiasm and the charisma of the 38 middle school and high school students who shine under the tutelage of the professionals who they've worked with for four weeks this summer to put on this semi-professional production.

Director Tito Hernandez has struck a delicate balance between paying homage to the original Fosse production while incorporating the circus elements of the revival. Yes, these kids can juggle and perform some circus tricks and acrobatics, but what truly makes this production work is the fact that the strong ensemble cast can also keep up with Hernandez's Fosse-inspired choreography. Hernandez's staging of "War is a Science," "Glory," and "With You" is a direct nod to Fosse's original production and distinctive dance style, and the kids don't miss a single pigeon-toed, jazz-handed, hip roll or beat.

Under the musical direction of Michael Santangelo, the cast tackles the big musical numbers with the tenacity of any large ensemble professional production, particularly during "Morning Glow" at the end of Act I and most notably during the finale.

There is something intrinsically delightful in hearing young people sing or watching them master a new style of dance or witnessing a metamorphosis as they overcome opening night nerves to emerge joyful, confident, eager, and accomplished. Such is the case with North Carolina Theatre's production of PIPPIN, which is a treat not only for fans of the show and music but also for audiences experiencing PIPPIN for the first time.

PIPPIN runs through July 8th at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. For more information or tickets, visit

Photo Credit: Kalyse Connor playing the Leading Player. Photo by Curtis Brown Photography.

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From This Author Lauren Van Hemert

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