Ever since it first opened on Broadway in 1972, the extravaganza that is Pippin has been known for its vibrancy, life, and charm. And, what better way to perfectly embody these characteristics than to cast the show with a host of talented young actors?
That is exactly what North Carolina Theatre has done. As the culmination of the four hard weeks of training that make up the NC Theatre Conservatory’s Master Summer Theatre Arts School, this presentation of Pippin, under the imaginative direction and choreography of Tito Hernandez, truly sparkles.
The youth and vivaciousness of the actors and, one could imagine, the experience they have just undergone comes through in full force here, sparking a lively, unforgettable production of Pippin that will delight viewers of all ages.
The production opens with a colorful, whole-cast opening number performance of the much-loved “Magic to Do.” Featuring Hernandez’ lively choreography that jumps right off the stage, this first number clues audience members in to the fact that they are in for a treat, and what follows doesn’t disappoint.
In fact, Hernandez’ choreography continues to shine throughout and is a real highlight of the production. Also serving as a highlight here is Evan Tylka’s believable and thoroughly likeable portrayal of the title character. He makes his character innocent, understandable, and sweetly eager throughout, and the simple, soft costuming choice from Denise Schumaker also serves to help along his portrayal. Funnily enough, Schumaker’s choices elsewhere are as bright and loud as the rest of the production, proving she knows when to “scale it back” and when to come out in full force.
Another standout here is Cady Van Venrooy, who exudes comedic genius in her hilarious portrayal of the wizened Berthe, Pippin’s grandmother. Her moments onstage provide some of the funniest and most memorable in the production. Also notable is Kalyse Connor’s reendition of the leading player, a tireless role in which she never loses the energy or misses a sarcastic beat that the script calls for.
When the show finally comes to an end, it feels as though it has passed by all too quickly. The “magic” is over, but, for these young artists and for all who have had the pleasure of viewing the show, it is sure to live on for years to come.
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