The University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance finished its first week run of "Pippin" April 14-16.
The department presented the musical at the Mainstage Theatre in UofM’s Theatre Building.
According to director Jacob Allen, Pippin was in high demand from both students in the Theatre & Dance department and UofM students in general.
“This has been one of the most requested shows by students across campus for a while, so that’s why we programmed it on our season,” Allen said.
The musical is loosely based on the historical figure Pippin the Hunchback who is the son of Charlemagne the Great, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. After returning home from his time at a university, he is unsure what to do with his life. He then goes on a journey to try to find something that will fulfill him. Among the many things he tries, Pippin goes to war to please his father and becomes involved in the political scene.
Allen explained that Pippin does not go on this journey alone.
“What’s special about the story is that he’s not doing this on his own,” he said. “He is being manipulated by a group of players who are leading him and guiding him through certain things to try.”
Allen said he is very excited to be working on "Pippin". It is his first musical that he has been able to direct on campus since the COVID-19 pandemic. While working on it, the size and scope of the production stood out to him.
“Pippin is really big. It’s a really big musical that has a lot of choreography and dancing that’s in it, and there’s a lot of moving pieces in it,” he said.
Emily Seatvet, a sophomore performance major, will be playing the role of Catherine, a widow and love interest of Pippin in the musical.
Seatvet also emphasized how the process for this musical was different because the cast will be performing without masks.
“To go into the pandemic and to do theatre masked to now go back to being maskless has been a very exciting process. It’s definitely been a different process,” she said.
Seatvet enjoyed learning about the history of Pippin and Charlemagne during the production. While some of the main characters in the musical are based off of non-fictional players, the role of Catherine is not.
“My character is not based off of a real, historic person,” she said. “So to find out what would her life have been like around that time and how does she fit into this story was really interesting for me to discover.”
Seatvet described the cast as being one big family. They enjoy working together and always show support toward each other. She said it was essential for the cast to build this sort of chemistry.
“It’s important in a show like this because this troop of players is so strong and they’re so unified that they present that to the audience, and I really do feel like our cast presents that,” she said.
After watching "Pippin", Seatvet hopes that audiences see that it’s important to make the most of what is around you and enjoy the journey to finding yourself.
“It can feel like maybe you want to give up, but finding the joy in the little moments along the way and finding the fulfillment in the journey itself and not just the end destination is just as important as the destination itself.”
"Pippin" will continue its second week run this week April 21-23. Tickets for the musicalare free to UofM students, faculty and staff. General admission tickets are $25, and senior tickets are $20. Students are able to bring up to one non-Memphis guest at a $20 reduced price.
Tickets are available at the Purchase Tickets section of UoM’s Department of Theatre & Dance webpage. Once purchased, an email with the ticket will be sent.