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Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
Book: Roger O. Hirson

The Firehouse Theatre

Directed: Derek Whitener
Choreography: Christina Kudlicki Hoth
Musical Direction: Kelly Schaal
Costume Design: Victor Newman Brockwell
Set Design: Kevin Brown
Aeriel Consultant: Taylor Quintero

Leading Player: Morgen Amalbert
Pippin: William Carleton
Catherine: Cayley Nicole Davis
Berthed: Andi Allen
Lewis: Quintin Jones Jr
Astraea: Kim Borge Swarner
Charlemagne: Dan Servetnick
Theo: Alexander Lilly

Players: Evan Anderson, Chapman Blake, Nicole Carrano, Mario Dawn, Jonathan Hardin, Christina Kudlicki Hoth, Derril Lasseigne, Bethany Lorentzen, Ania Lyons, Ryan C. Machen, Ashley Markgraf, Rodney Morris, Mindy Neuendorff, Malcolm Payne Jr, Marilyn Setu, Zach Sharp, Carlos Strudwick

Reviewed Performance: 7/22/2017

Reviewed by Darlene Singleton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

WOW! WOW!! WOW!!! were my first thoughts when I left The Firehouse Theatre following the wonderful musical presentation of PIPPIN. My next thought was how in the world can I capture the effervescent colors, the over-the-top energy, and the stirring of emotions I experienced as the extremely enthusiastic and talented actors sang, danced, and flew across the stage on aerial hoops and colorful ribbons of silk.

The full company tells the story of Pippin, a young prince who longs to find passion and adventure in his life. To prove his loyalty to his distracted father, King Charles, Pippin goes to war. But when the Leading Player convinces the prince to fight tyranny, Pippin kills Charles and takes over the throne. The protagonist Pippin and his father Charlemagne are characters derived from two real-life individuals of the early Middle Ages, though the plot presents no historical accuracy regarding either. A few fun facts about PIPPIN - it was partially financed by Motown Records; in 1972 The Supremes put the song I’LL MISS THE MAN on the charts; and in 1973 Michael Jackson made the song MORNING GLOW a hit.

The show begins as the entire cast perform their aerial talent in the opening number MAGIC TO DO, sung by the Leading Player (gloriously performed by Morgen Amalbert). Amalbert invites the audience to enjoy a show about a prince living in France who is searching for fulfillment and does not know where to go in life. As Amalbert leans seductively, but with an innocent child-like grin, in toward the audience and invites us all to waste an hour or two - I was hooked. I must note however, that at no point during the afternoon was my time wasted.

William Carleton plays Pippin and is believable as the young man who yearns for his place in the sun even though he is easily led astray while searching for happiness. His rendition of CORNER OF THE SKY was soooooo good and when he sang the lyrics - I want my life to be something more than long... - I was awe struck. Cayley Nicole Davis plays the widowed farm-owner Catherine and is affectingly believable as the young mother searching for love as well as a father for her son, Theo (played by Alexander Lilly). Will and Cayley create sweet tender moments as Pippin flirts with his own coming of age.

Performances by Quintin Jones Jr as Lewis, Kim Borge Swarner as Fastrada, and Dan Servetnick as Charlemagne were equally entertaining and a delight to watch onstage. Andi Allen plays Berthe, Pippin’s grandmother, and leads the crowd through a singalong of NO TIME AT ALL as she climbs into the aerial hoop and successfully demonstrates grandmothers can do anything they put their mind to.

I must admit I found the CIRCUS to be the star of the show. The ensemble cast continuously break the fourth wall’ and speak directly to the audience and I was mesmerized by each and every one of the Players throughout the entire production. As I watched the energetic and dazzling choreography by Christina Kudlicki Hoth, I was continuously drawn to three of the players - Ashley Markgraf, Bethany Lorentzen and Nicole Carrano. Their aerial talent was mesmerizing and as a special mention, Nicole even performs on stilts.

The inventive costumes and flamboyant make-up are a brilliant impact to the production. Kudos to costume designer Victor Newman Brockwell.

As my guest and I watched the spectacular performances of each person onstage I couldn’t help but think of the idiom “the grass is always greener on the other side”. We all search for our own corner of the sky and, if we are lucky, we learn we are most likely where we need to be. I’ve experienced this through various phases of my life and along the way I’ve learned the grass is not always greener. While watching the Firehouse Theater interpretation of PIPPIN I realized we are all put where we are for a reason – sometimes we just need to learn to bloom where we are planted.

The Firehouse Theatre
2535 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch, TX 75234
July 19 – August 20, 2017
For ticket prices, dates, location, parking, etc.:
972.620.3747 /