June 15--"Pippin" is a musical filled with 1970s pop music and a vaudeville style to its storytelling, but at its core, it's a story about living your life how you want.
The musical, the last of the season for Ames Community Theater, tells the story of Pippin, son of King Charlemagne, and his journey to find the meaning of life.
"I think it's about how you try to pursue your goals and dreams," said Phillip Sears, an Iowa State student who plays the title role. "Pippin is constantly looking for purpose and meaning. He gets to try many things, but they don't leave him all that happy."
The story, however, does veer off on occasion because the musical is about circus performers putting on the musical, so breaking the fourth-wall, when actors directly address the audience, does occur. There's even a sing-a-long.
"Pippin" is a show within a show. The leader of the play, called Leading Player, addresses the audience as well as the circus actors on occasion.
Josh Ster, who plays Leading Player, said the goal is to have this grand finale, but as the play progresses, things begin to go wrong. It's the job of the suave but controlling Leading Player to keep the cast intact and finish the play.
The story of Pippin deals with some still touchy and relevant issues including religion, art, sex, politics and war.
"Just like the '70s, war is still with us," said Stacy Brothers, stage director of "Pippin." "It affects many families and the same can be said for politics."
She said the heart of the play is about family and love.
"After the adventures in life, family and love are what is really important to us," Brothers said. "Having people that love you, appreciate you, respect you. Pippin searches and searches for that as well as meaning. He finds it but not where he expected."
Tim Gleason, who plays Charlemagne, said Pippin's journey makes it relatable to audiences, and hopefully they find it enlightening.
"Too often people try to get to a point of happiness and satisfaction in their life rather than just living life," he said.
Gleason said he can relate because he spent many years running a restaurant and "chasing stuff that didn't matter." It also meant he wasn't at home with his family as much as he should have been.
"You have to enjoy the simple pleasures," he said. "You cannot make the goal your life."
Catherine, portrayed by Samantha Koontz, an ISU student, is the love interest of Pippin's.
"Catherine is a last ditch effort to get the finale going, and she wants the limelight," Koontz said.
Leading Player grows frustrated with the production by the time the finale and Koontz said the actress who is Catherine really isn't that good.
"Pippin" is a minimalist production, with most of the set comprised of scaffolding and a few pieces and curtains.
The Broadway revival of "Pippin" was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and won four at the ceremony last Sunday, including Best Revival of a Musical.
When: 7:30 Friday, Saturday, June 28 and 29; 2 p.m. June 23 and 30
Where: ACTORS, 120 Abraham Drive
Runtime: 2 hours
This is not a musical intended for young children.
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