Hello. My name is Che’Rae. And… I am a Pippa-holic….Hi Che’Rae!
I recently realized that I’m addicted to Pippin by Stephen Schwartz. I see every single production that I come across, in Los Angeles and otherwise. I don’t care if it is part of UCLA’s Reprise series, The Mark Taper Forum’s season or at a local high school. I can’t help it! After all, they’ve got magic to do! Just for you!
I have asked myself the question many times-Why must I see this show no matter who produces it or how poor the quality may be? Basically they could throw poo on the show and I would still give it a standing ovation. I realize now that I must seek help with this addiction or it could effect me for the rest of my life!
It turns out that the first step in my recovery is admitting that I have a problem. That is the easy part-I admit it! The next 12 steps were a lot harder. I even got a sponsor. It turns out that one of the steps is reaching into my past and discovering the deep rooted reasons that I have to see Pippin. As I reached back, a suppressed memory was revealed. When I was in Jr. High School, I was invited to see a production of Pippin by one of my best friends, Zirka Keske, who was an inspiring dancer. In the dark recesses of my mind, I could barely make out flashes of the brightly colored costumes, sexy dancers, and fabulous music. There was slight of hand, a duck puppet, and people of all ages in the show! There were even half naked cute boys, especially the one who played Pippin! In fact, I think I might have kissed him after the show at the cast and crew party as I hung out with Zirka who was just fabulous in the chorus!
This early memory of Pippin, might explain where the roots of my addiction lie. Afterall, Pippin is not only for all ages, but it has characters of all ages, ranging from 10 years old to 60. Everyone can relate to the story, because it has a fairytale structure and it has a sense of humor about itself. The music is unforgettable and timeless, a true masterpiece by the author of Godspell and Wicked. The title song “We’ve Got Magic to Do” symbolizes what I think the theatre is all about-the ability to transport the audience to magical places just for them.
We’ve got magic to you, just for you
We’ve got miracle plays to play
We’ve got parts to perform, hears to warm
Kings and things to take by storm
As we go along our way
Pippin’s solo “Corner of the Sky” has been done to death at every musical theater audition in the country, but it has a special place in my heart as an anthem to self awareness, prosperity and growth.
Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky
The entire concept of the show hinges on the actors as “players” which is a nice echo to Shakespeare’s famous idea that “All the world is a stage and we are merely players”. But by far the most poignant part of the script is when Pippin decides that he wants his life to be “something more than long” and is offered the chance to make a real difference in the world if he sacrifices himself by jumping into a pit of fire. Pippin discovers in that moment that life is to be shared with someone you love and who loves you, and does not necessarily need to be “extraordinary” to be fulfilling.
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Deaf West’s version of Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum. Who would have thought that the added layer of ASL would resonate with me so much? It makes perfect sense actually-what better thing to take away from Pippin in the end but his voice? The concept of two Pippins, one deaf and one hearing, allowed for Pippin to have moments where his inner conflict was literalized. In the end, this production of Pippin fed my addiction because it is everything that I feel theatre should be-magical, sexy, wildly entertaining, and in the end, it gives us something to think about.
Written by Che’Rae Adams for NOHOARTSDISTRICT.COM March 2009