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Transylvania will present the musical Pippin in May

Transylvania will present the Broadway musical Pippin May 16-18 in a joint production of the theater and the music departments. The show will appear in three performances at 7:30 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium.

The musical was directed on Broadway by Bob Fosse and ran for nearly five years (October 1972-June 1977) and 1,944 performances, winning five Tony Awards in 1973. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz, and the book is by Roger O. Hirson.

Transylvania’s production will have a director with Off-Broadway experience. Tony Speciale directed a Classic Stage Company production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in April that included Bebe Neuwirth and Christina Ricci in the cast. He was a former student of Transylvania theater professor Sully White at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he recently directed Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for new artistic director Les Waters. His work has also been seen at the New York Theatre Festival and the Edinburg Fringe Festival, among other venues. He holds an MFA in directing from Columbia University.

The musical uses the premise of a mysterious acting troupe, led by a Leading Player, to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince on an ambitious quest for an extraordinary and meaningful life. The context of the show is purposefully anachronistic and unconventional, though the musical score reflects a contemporary 1970s pop style.

“This is a funny, inventive, coming-of-age fairy tale—a story we hope everyone will love,” said White, who will produce the show. She explained that Pippin was chosen for its virtues as a good ensemble piece, one that will allow many students to shine in their roles.

“While certainly the titular character is a lead role, the ensemble roles have as much stage time and get the fun task of helping to create the world of the play,” White said. “We also wanted something that would challenge and excite both the actor and the singer, and we think we’ve found that in the solid book scenes that make up the story and in the energetic score.”

During the musical, Pippin’s adventures include a mock battle to show him the life of a warrior, a series of meaningless sexual encounters that teach him how relationships without love are hollow, a fight against tyranny, and experiments with art and religion, all in the name of finding his true calling in life. Pippin finally settles for an ordinary existence, a choice that leaves him ambivalent about his decision.

White announced the other positions for the production: music professor Ben Hawkins, conductor; music professor and Kenan visiting artist in music Greg Turay, vocal director; theater professor and Kenan visiting artist in drama Mike Sanders, scenic designer; theater instructor, costume designer, and shop supervisor Melissa Johnston, costume designer; and facility director and technical coordinator of Mitchell Fine Arts Center Devon Query, lighting designer.

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