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MTG brings a light, humorous Pippin to MIT

PIPPIN

Directed by Mary L. B. Thompson '92.

Starring Robert Dyckman '94,

Andrew Kraft '95 and Emily Prenner '92.

Sala de Puerto Rico, Nov. 21-23, 8 pm.

By VIPUL BHUSHAN

AFULL HOUSE JOINED THE company of Players last Saturday evening as the Musical Theatre Guild related the life and times of Pippin in their production of Stephen Schwartz's play. The Players present for their audience a glitzy spectacle of song and dance, telling a story filled with comedy, romance, tragedy and a sprinkling of magic.

Pippin's story is that of a young man, the son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. After graduating with honors from the University of Padua, he comes home very naive and idealistic, and decides to search for his extraordinary fate -- his own glorious niche in life.

Robert Dyckman '94 does a great job as Pippin and is the most impressive actor of the bunch. When he comes home he is reunited with his father Charlemagne, very well-played by Andrew Quixote Kraft '95, a law-and-order ruler known for his prowess on the battlefield. He also visits his step-mother Fastrada (Grace E. Col'on G), a sultry and conspiring woman whose primary interest is the advancement of her son and the spending of her allowance, and his step-brother Lewis (Nate Ritter '92), a dim-witted soldier whose pride is his physique and his accomplished battlefield career.

Pippin makes his first attempt at discovering fulfillment by accompanying Charlemagne and his armies to war. He does not fit in as a soldier, though, and finds no glory in vanquishing the heathen Visigoths. The battle scenes contained good music pieces, although the women dressed as soldiers in the army looked too much like awkward Rockette wanna-bes to be taken seriously in that role.

The play is narrated by a Leading Player (Emily R. Prenner '92), who is effective as the audience's guide through the story. She can do nothing, however, about the plot, which becomes a little disjointed at the end as the players turn against Pippin and his new family. He refuses to go along with their plans to burn him up in a grand finale, and the Leading Player retaliates by stripping them of their supporting music, lights and costumes, challenging Pippin to survive and sing without them. Pippin is unfazed and breaks into song. He shows us that simple contentment is a most extraordinary thing and need not be shrouded in pomp and grandeur -- a message quite relevant in today's times.

The orchestra, under the direction of Dave Darmofal G, did an excellent job. The music was full-bodied, well-cued and greatly enhanced the show.

Unfortunately, some important things were not so well done. The costuming could certainly have been much better, and the set, though adequate, was very sparse. And then there was the lighting (or at times, the lack thereof): Occasionally, an irrelevant part of the stage was lit while action unfolded in the dark. The lights were often off-cue, and the Players on stage sometimes called for colors in the dialogue which never appeared.

But one may, depending on nature and mood, very easily take the director's advice and simply sit back and enjoy the fun without worrying too much about extracting profound meaning from the play. The tone of the presentation is light and humorous, and it is easy to relax and let the Players tell their tale.

Notwithstanding its shortcomings, MTG's Pippin is a fine show to see. I enjoyed the performance, though it would have been much better with just a little more thought and effort on the costumes and lights.