Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012 01:04
When the Twilight Players take the stage to perform “Pippin,” there will be a generation of ghosts sitting in the audience and a nostalgic feeling in the air. It has been 34 years since the music from “Pippin” filled the Alexander Twilight Theatre.
The 1978 director was Phil Anderson, former head of LSC’s theater department.
“When we were suddenly confronted with the rights to do ‘Pippin’, it hadn’t been released yet and we were in the middle of planning and about to go into rehearsals for ‘Hello Dolly’,” said Anderson. “We were informed that ‘Pippin’ was available and we leaped at the chance, got the rights to do it, and we were the first amateur production of ‘Pippin’ in the country. I don’t know how we found out, but the rights to ‘Pippin’ became available and we grabbed the opportunity.”
The current director of “Pippin” is Gianna Fregosi, instructor of theater at Lyndon for the last two years. She says that this year’s group has a timely advantage over the original production.
“We also get to enjoy the benefit that this show has been around for 30 plus years and it’s one of those shows where people who love it will travel just about anywhere to see it,” says Fregosi. “Pippin fans are like Grateful Dead fans; there’s such a love for this show.”
In the musical, Pippin is the son of King Charlemagne. The story depicts Pippin’s quest for happiness which involves killing his father, becoming king, losing the crown and eventually, falling in love.
About 25 former theater and “Pippin” cast members plan to attend the Saturday performance of the musical. Alumni will be coming from as far away as Kansas and Colorado.
Anderson has stayed in close contact with about 20 of the students from the original cast. The original production required the involvement of 25-30 people. Three people have since died and one, the original Pippin, Paul Hopkins, continues his 20 year fight with cancer.
Jenny Harris was a chorus member in the original production of “Pippin” and is now an Alumni development officer for Lyndon. Harris recalls the excitement about the play, but didn’t pay much attention to it at the time.
“The whole college was pretty involved with the production happening. I remember people coming in and wanting to be aware of what was happening,” said Harris. “There was a big excitement about that [the license], but I wasn’t totally aware of it at the time, I don’t think. When I’ve talked to people since then, I was made aware of how big a deal it was at the time.”
The Twilight Players are a campus club. Students pitch the idea of shows they want to perform and then vote on the options collectively. This year’s production of “Pippin” was suggested with the thought of recognizing its history at Lyndon and the alumni (previously) involved.
This year, Daniel Haycook, a senior liberal studies major, is playing the character of Pippin. Haycook believes that the original cast will be able to relate to this year’s version of the musical.
“The historical twist that we’re taking is the time that the original cast was living through so it’s going to be interesting to see their reaction,” said Haycook.
Anderson (the original director) said a different director, calls for a different, final product.
“Theater is an interpretive art so there’s many ways to envision a particular production,” said Anderson. “I’m very curious to know how they’re going to do it. You can take one play and you can put it in the hands of a dozen different directors, and you’ll get a dozen different ways to stage and visualize that dramatic piece.”
Harris said that the storyline of the production of Pippin, in the 70s, reflected the feeling of the era for the college students of the time.
“It was kind of a different time then. We had this combination of being really serious about theater and about the show and about it being exactly right. Everybody wanted it to be just perfect,” said Harris (about the LSC theatre group at the time). “In the 70s, it was the end of the hippie, free love, generation. There was something about the theme of the show itself. It was about leaving your worries and realizing that there was magic to do. You had the capacity to create this magical illusion. I think students now are more serious sooner about life, than we were. We weren’t too worried about things in general. We lived for the moment. You could really relate to the show.”
Fregosi (this year’s director) says that this production will be based on the 1970s period that “Pippin” was originally written in. They are taking an approach different from the original script set in a medieval time.
“The thing that really struck me about this show is it is definitely a product of its era. It definitely screams 1970s and you can’t escape that,” says Fregosi. “It’s not going to be so much a hippie look as it’s going to be 70s, arty, more modern and clean.”
(In terms of props and costumes) Fregosi is trading in the swords and medieval garb of the original script and replacing them with rifles and military uniforms.