Third time's the charm: 'Pippin' returns to WSU stage

5:26:26 PM CDT - Thursday, September 23, 2004

By Chase Willhite

Longtime stage favorite "Pippin" will return to Wichita State Oct. 7-10 as the opening event for this year's Mainstage and Opera and Musical Theatre series at Wilner Auditorium.

The Tony Award-winning musical has been performed twice before at WSU, in 1984 and 1993.

"This is a great show with a very broad appeal," said Linda Starkey, assistant professor and associate director of musical theater.

The show highlights the coming of age story of Pippin, the son of Charlemagne. Following his time at a university, he begins his search for true satisfaction.

"The show has a truly universal theme that will speak to young people," Starkey said. "Pippin is looking for direction and what to do with his life."

Pippin's quest for satisfaction leads him out of his father's shadow as he finally settles down to a simpler life.

Debuting on Broadway in 1972, the original run was directed and choreographed by the legendary Bob Fosse. Fosse, who received the 1973 Tony awards in choreography and directing for "Pippin," teamed up with composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz for an impressive Broadway run.

According to Starkey, both Fosse's choreography and Schwartz's music set "Pippin" apart from other musicals.

"Bob Fosse's choreography is truly amazing, and really gives the show a sort of dark edge that will keep the audience very interested," Starkey said. "This is also one of Stephen Schwartz's earliest scores, and the combination creates a very special appeal."

WSU's rendition of "Pippin" will also feature some impressive talent. Sophomore Javier Perez-Gomez will play the role of Pippin, with senior Leah Swank cast in the role of Catherine, Pippin's love interest. The Leading Player role features senior Julius Thomas III.

Senior Preston Schell is handling the show's music.

Joining Starkey in off-stage roles are adjunct faculty member Sabrina Vasquez working with choreography; set design and lighting by assistant theater professor Brad Reissig; and costumes by associate theater professor Betty Monroe.

"Many people have contributed to what should be a great show," Starkey said. "Pippin's journey is intriguing, interesting and makes a statement about the choices we all make in life."

"Pippin" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 7-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, in Wilner Auditorium. Tickets are $12 with discounts available. "Pippin" is part of the Mainstage Series and the Opera and Musical Theatre Series. Mainstage Series tickets are $34 with discounts available for four shows; Opera Musical Theatre Series tickets are $32 with discounts available for three shows. The College of Fine Arts is also offering a series combo for $56 with discounts available. For more ticket information, call 978-3233 or go to https://secure.wichita.edu/fastickets/.

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