By: Hannah Newman
The Westminster College of the Arts is ready to take back the stage regularly once again. After the long months of vacancy in the theater due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “Pippin” unpaused the nearly year-and-a-half long hiatus with its four performances that were applauded with standing ovations from Oct. 15 to Oct. 17.
The musical tells the story of a boy named Pippin who tries to find fulfillment in the world but is constantly manipulated by the illusion that social media creates about reality. He later realizes that the world does not look parallel to the way it is displayed on an electronic screen. Each ensemble member portrayed a different form of social media that dragged Pippin down in his journey to find his destiny, but the attempt fails when Pippin realizes that natural beauty and organic love is the key to feeling fulfilled in life.
Director Robin Lewis — a former Broadway dancer and musical theater faculty member for 11 years at Rider — explained his favorite parts about customizing the plot to illustrate the false reality into which social media traps young adults.
“The joy of students coming together and having the ability to show their love and passion for what they do never fails to amaze me. Having 18 of the 23 cast members as seniors was very special this year being that they were able to spend their last year physically on stage. My hope is that the audience takes something away from their experience at the show considering that the plot is so relevant to the world we live in currently,” said Lewis.
The lead of the musical Spencer Petro, a senior musical theater major, revealed his emotional connection to his character and the correlation between the storyline and life for students after their time at Rider.
“This show is so open-ended. I feel that Pippin is the personification of everyone in terms of wanting fulfillment and wanting to be ‘the one,’ and I feel like a lot of us are in his position, especially with the majority of the cast being seniors. We are heading out into life after college having so many mixed emotions about being exposed to the world on our own with luckily having a grasp on who we are, but there’s a world of possibilities out there that we are both excited and scared to embark upon,” said Petro.
The set of “Pippin” was designed by Bella Mazzoni, a junior technical theater major. Mazzoni shared her experience designing the set and described some of the props used throughout the play.
“This was my first show that I got to design the main set of, so it was really nice to finally get my hands on something out there in the world and being able to put my name on it. I felt that it was a great opportunity to move my way up towards a more professional career in this business,” said Mazzoni.
Hair and makeup designer Ryan Alger, a senior technical theatre major, gave her insight on individualizing each character’s portrayal of social media and how the final product of each look came to be.
“This is also my first show designing. My favorite part had to be meeting the ensemble members and getting to work with them one-on-one to talk about their social media influencer. The ensemble members and I were able to collaborate our ideas which was really fun, because that never really happens in theater. I was able to create their image with them,” said Alger.
Musical theater majors are able to perform once again after a more than year-long intermission due to the pandemic.