To promote an ordinary life, Pippin promises an extraordinary show

April 13, 2024

Photo courtesy of Yunji Yun

​​“Is life theatrical?”

This is the question Georgetown’s theater community promises to interrogate later this month with Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society and Nomadic Theatre’s co-production of Pippin.

The musical, which will run from April 11-20 in Poulton Hall, follows the story of Pippin, the fictional son of King Charlemagne, as he pursues various paths in his quest to live an extraordinary life, spurred on by the Leading Player.

“Pippin as a character is super relatable to college students, to me, to really any young person who’s struggling to find themselves or struggling to find a purpose in their life,” director Drew Lent (CAS ’25) said. 

On a campus where ambitious students obsess over finding the highest-paying job that will bring them the most social clout, Pippin encourages an alternative: a life that focuses on the little things.

“I think thematically it’s a show that’s very poignant for a lot of Georgetown students. With this question of, do you need to be extraordinary? Do you need to have the biggest production in town, or can you settle for the simple life?” stage manager Sean Rafferty (CAS ’26) said. “Do you need that extraordinary part of life? Or are there other routes to find fulfillment?”

Despite the show’s message to embrace the simpler parts of life, Pippin’s team promises that the show itself will be a spectacle to behold. The creative direction is intended to follow in the footsteps of other productions, which have historically featured grand performances while also thematically highlighting the contrast between living a fantastic-appearing life versus one that is quieter yet more personally fulfilling.

Caroline Samoluk (CAS ’25), who plays Leading Player, said that the show’s extravagance lies in its theatricality, ticking all the boxes of what a musical should be. 

“It is so quintessential musical theater. It is like the biggest and best of everything that I love about theater.” Samoluk said. “It is full out dancing, it is full of singing, it is full out acting.”

Pippin requires so much more than just, ‘Can you sing? Can you act? Can you dance?’ It’s, ‘Can you do acrobatics? Can you do tricks?’ Like random things, it’s so all-encompassing that it really highlights everyone’s abilities,” Samoluk said. “You got to be triple threat all the way.”

In one dance, the ensemble takes to the stage with bright red hula hoops and exercise balls, culminating in a grand finish where they stage an elaborate tableau with their bodies. The choreography is inspired by the work of Bob Fosse, who choreographed the original production of Pippin in his unique, jazzy, sensual style. These dance sequences are a crucial part of making Pippin exciting and highlighting the immense talent of the cast and crew.  

Pippin, as a show within a show, is filled to the brim with frequent remarks to the audience and references to a showstopping grand finale. Lent chose to further break the fourth wall through the set design. While black box theaters like Poulton Hall afford a fair amount of freedom to make a stage as immersive as possible, Pippin’s team went the opposite direction, building a stage—complete with lightbulbs lining the runway-like stage’s edge and a bright red curtain framing the back—to remind the audience that they are watching a show.

Entwined with this effort to remind the audience of the show’s theatricality is another message just as important to Lent’s direction and inherent to theater as a whole: the mistreatment of actors by the industry.

Using the contrasting adjectives of “glamorous” and “grungy” to describe the show, Lent said that he wanted to bring attention to how the treatment of actors often does not adequately reward their immense dedication to stunning the audience.   

“I wanted to show how actors put on this beautiful, glamorous performance in front of people, but underneath all of that they’re severely underpaid and not treated well by the industry,” Lent said. 

With a checkerboard floor and canvases hanging on the walls, Lent wants to make Poulton Hall reminiscent of a dingy bar. By juxtaposing the glitz and glamor of the red velvet curtains with the dusty checkerboard floor, Lent wants to make Poulton Hall reminiscent of a dingy bar, reminding the audience of the difficult conditions actors must work in.

As a collaboration between Mask and Bauble and Nomadic Theatre, the show bridges their unique ethoses and the broader Georgetown theater community. With its place in the theater canon and its hefty list of elaborate theatrical elements—from complicated choreography to stunning sets—Pippin combines Mask and Bauble’s devotion to theater classics with Nomadic’s mission to push the boundaries of what theater can offer. 

“It’s a celebration of Georgetown theater as a unit, and not just two distinct, separate theater clubs,” Lent explained.

Set to premiere in the final few weeks of the semester, Pippin is sure to provide a dazzling end to this school year, while also leaving its audiences with the question of whether the grand future they envision for themselves—built on by a summer crammed with internships and extra classes—is the life that will truly fulfill them. Life can be theatrical, Pippin suggests, but behind all the glitz and glamor, will its substance be enough to satisfy us? 

Pippin will take place April 11-20 at 8 p.m. in Poulton Hall. Tickets are available for purchase on CampusGroups. The cost is $5 for students and $10 for general admission.

Disclaimer: Eileen Miller is an assistant Voices editor for the Voice and formerly served as a costume assistant for Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society. Caroline Samoluk previously served as a Halftime Leisure assistant editor for the Voice.

Eileen Miller
Eileen is a sophomore studying Regional and Comparative Studies and an assistant Voices editor. She hails from a small island near Seattle and is a big fan of evergreen trees. When she isn’t writing coherent, fact-based Voice articles, she is writing nonsensical, absurd fiction.

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