Finding Fulfillment: Pippin at Randall Theatre Company
“Anyone can relate to Pippin’s dream of being a remarkable and memorable person,” asserts Lauren Panter. “Don’t we all want complete fulfillment in our lives?” The Lead Player in Randall Theatre’s production Pippin, Panter begs an important, if inconclusive, question. In the play, originally performed as a musical in 1972, a young prince goes in search of Big Ideas, and in the process answers some of those Big Queions—or at least provides some thoughts on the matter. The show will premiere on Friday, July 20 at 7 pm and will play through Aug. 12 at Randall Theatre’s Medford location.
At the heart of the Randall Theatre’s production is the 1972 original, but assures Director Robin Downward, it will also be very different. “It has quite a bit of underlying meaning and emotion that isn’t always shown in some of the versions performed,” he says. “We especially dug deep into the relationship between Pippin and his father Charles. In many versions, the father is either a dimwit or a power monger who shows very little attention to Pippin. In our version, we wanted to see growth between the two characters, show their strained relationship along with the growth Pippin shows in his father’s eyes.”
Pippin is the fourth production Downward has directed at Randall Theatre. He also serves as the artistic director of the company. He says, “The director’s job is motivating the cast and crew to give just that much extra than what they feel they can in order to cross over that line. It’s not hard to take that step, but it does take motivation to do it.” His long history in acting and directing has forced him to see situations from every angle, as well as learning how to encourage his actors.
Panter, the actor at the center of the show, agrees. “This is such an incredibly moving show,” she says. “I don’t think anyone who comes and sees it is going to walk away with nothing, and I think, of course, that the show will speak to each person differently.”
She has always dreamed of being a part of Pippin. Being casted as Lead Player has been a rewarding and exciting challenge for her. She adds, “Ever since the revival (in 2013) cast the Lead Player as female, I thought, ‘Wow, I hope I get to do that someday!’ ”
While she describes Lead Player as “very crafty, devious, and cunning,” she also mentions how her character is a performance among everything else. “Every look, every line, every step she takes is planned and purposeful,” she says. “It’s not all straight forward and laid out in the script for you. It’s a lot to remember, and to think about.”
Nico Hewitt, who will play Pippin, says his character transitions from naive to mature. “When Pippin and the others meet at this fulcrum we have some of the most powerful moments of the show,” he says. “It’s one of the more real characters I’ve had to play in a show in quite a while so it has certainly been a challenge and I’m excited for people to see what we as the cast have created. After all, this show and character have quite the prestige to live up to.”
In 2013, a revival of Pippin shortened songs for longer dance sequences. This production holds truer to the original version, while keeping a few elements of the revival. “The costuming and make up design (by Alayna Riley) was inspired by modern day circuses like ‘Cirque Du Soleil,’ while the set design (by Nico Hewitt) was inspired by a modern, industrial look,” he says. “In designing the show, we wanted to create a hybrid of what people enjoyed about both the classic and revival versions of Pippin while also making it our own.”
7 pm, Friday, July 20, through August 12.
Randall Theatre Company, 10 E. Third Street, Medford.
$17 – $22.