Spectacular song, dance and circus-style acrobatics combine in the award-winning musical, “Pippin,” which makes its Penn State debut on March 21.
The decades-famous story, created by the composer behind “Wicked,” gives audiences a glimpse into the life of a young prince — loosely based off of a real-life medieval ruler — looking for excitement, who becomes caught up with a troupe of dazzling players. The bright lights and theatrics soon illuminate a darker side to his escapades, however. It all culminates into a life-altering decision between love, peace and a little boredom, and a risky life filled with thrills and potential danger.
According to Naysh Fox, who plays the leading role of Pippin in the touring Broadway production, it’s this fictional decision that makes his character most relatable.
“There are many rewarding aspects of playing this iconic role, but the one that stands out is knowing that the character of Pippin is relatable to everyone in the audience. Everyone has been on, or is on, a journey to find fulfillment in their life, so having the opportunity to reach out and encourage the audience to question and reflect on life is a great responsibility and honor,” he said.
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The responsibility is, of course, no easy task.
“When given the opportunity to play a role such as Pippin, you, as the actor, are presented with many challenges,” Fox said. “Each night to prepare, after physically and vocally warming up, I take about 15-20 minutes to reflect on the previous show, and to surround myself in the space and to start living in this circus world we as the cast and creative team created. I would have to say the most challenging part of playing this role, but also the most rewarding, is discovering different nuances every performance.”
Fox said he loves every aspect of the show, and recognizes that the production, which includes plenty of fun choreography and show-stopping visuals, has had a profound impact on his own experience as an actor and as an individual.
“When I first was offered the contract, the choreographer told me that this was going to change my life, and, boy, was he right,” Fox said. “What I love about this production is seeing so many different types of artists come together and trust one another to tell this amazing story.”
However, beyond the magical exterior, the show has a simple message that increases its relatability to every audience member, as it asks them to reflect upon their own lives and decisions.
“This production of ‘Pippin’ is about discovery and listening to your heart,” Fox said. “I think the most important message to take away is that there is no wrong ending, as long as you’re happy with the choices you have made. Life itself is extraordinary, and every path you take is unique and rewarding.”
Of course, audiences will have to decide for themselves whether they agree with Pippin’s final decision in the last moments of the show, which has been interpreted a variety of ways. For the curious, Fox encourages them to come see the production for themselves, and to “get ready to run away to the circus.”
IF YOU GO
- What: “Pippin”
- When: 7:30 p.m. March 21
- Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
- Info: www.cpa.psu.edu