After a difficult and stormy start to the fall semester, the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre ended the run of its first show of the season, the musical “Pippin” by Stephen Schwartz and Roger Hirson, to a great success.
“Pippin” played from Oct. 5 to Oct. 14 at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. As the hard work of the “Pippin” performers drew to a close, it was bittersweet for the actors to say goodbye to a show that they’ve put so much time and effort into.
“Leading Player,” musical theater major Jordan Kiser, said he felt it was his responsibility to deliver an energetic act, as the soulful, singing little devil on Pippin’s shoulder throughout the show.
“It’s a little bit of a relief and a little bit sad,” Kiser said. “You have to go out there and give every single audience the best performance you can. You figure out what you’re really made of in those types of shows.”
Even after two weeks off campus because of Hurricane Irma, one week to make up for it and show opening on Oct. 5, the cast’s work was never over. The show continued to evolve and grow with each performance.
Rehearsals started immediately upon returning to campus, with cast making up for lost time in any way that they could. With only a week to perfect the show, the pressure was on and they made a tremendous effort putting in extra hours with a steady conviction.
Branden Holzer, who played the titular character, said polishing up the show in a shorter amount of time lead to “different line reads” and “blocking moments” that carefully built upon each other to improve the performance overall.
“I think throughout the past week of performances, we’ve found a lot of new things, adding little nuances into the performance,” Holzer said.
“Pippin” was a strong choice for the first show of the season. The heavy, metaphor-laden musical about the difficulties of growing older, battling inner demons and finding one’s purpose piqued the interest of theater-goers.
With fun music, circus sideshow-like acrobatics and a heavily used scaffold set piece, this was an exciting and entertaining show.
“It’s really exciting that it was the first show, start things off with a bang,” Holzer said.
Getting the show to its spectacular caliber took significant time and effort, especially in light of a particularly nasty hurricane season. Evacuations before Hurricane Irma made rehearsals impossible.
“It was really stressful because we were all in different places,” Holzer said.
The cast and crew’s dedication paid off. They delivered a seamless performance with a compelling energy that truly invited audiences into the world they crafted.
“Getting back in the groove of things … It was stressful, but everyone came together and worked really hard,” Holzer said. “We were focused and pulled it off.”
The small, intimate Ring Theatre makes audiences feel like part of the whole experience.
“They do an incredible job with the small theater space and the limited props,” sophomore in political science and international relations Neemi Patel said.
Patel, who was in the audience on closing night, is a friend of one of the Ring workers and has been to several shows. She said she saw something special in the last performance of “Pippin,” a tribute to their hard work.
The culmination of “Pippin” marks the start of a great season to come. Next on the roster is “Romeo and Juliet,” which Kiser said will not be a typical Shakespearean performance.
The performance will include gender bending aspects and modern influences, as well as Shakespearean sword fighting.
“Romeo and Juliet” will play Nov. 9 through 18 at the Ring Theatre. Buy tickets online or by calling the box office at 305-284-3355.