There’s magic in the air! And the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre is on the receiving end!
The creative team at the theater on Division Street in Harwich should take a bow along with the fantastic troupe of players in this razzle-dazzle trip called “Pippin.” The Tony Award-winning show is a campy hodgepodge that’s part circus, part “puppet show,” part musical with nearly 20 spell-binding song and dance numbers; it’s gaiety, anticipation and spunk all rolled into one. The Leading Player guides us through the tale of the prince who thinks he wants to be king opening with “Magic to Do.” The opener sets the pace; you’re going on a ride!
The show first ran in the early '70s. The music and lyrics are fabulous, written by Stephen Schwartz (of “Godspell” and “Wicked” fame); you’ll want to download the soundtrack. Roger O. Hirson wrote the book, and the incomparable choreographer Bob Fosse directed the original Broadway production. Fosse’s stamp on the production continues to this day, and CCTC/HJT choreographer Terry Norgeot knows how to suggest many of his trademark moves (the turned-in knees, sideways shuffles, rolling shoulders and jazz hands).
This show is one fascinating production number after another filled with over-the-top characters. A very engaging Brittany Rolfs embraces the role of the Leading Player; something of a narrator, she’s mesmerizing and controls the show from the beginning to the end. I’m a huge fan of Ben Vereen who originated the role, and Rolfs did not disappoint. Then there’s Pippin’s father, King Charlemagne, played by the charismatic Ted Vitale (“War is a Science”), the Queen and Pippin’s stepmother Fastrada, a feisty sexpot played by Sara Plunkett (“Spread a Little Sunshine”), her dim-witted son Lewis (Justin West) and an ensemble (Ariana Goyette, Kierstyn Bohl, Melanie Clarke, Brendan Cloney, Shiloh Pabst, Hannah Reggio and Ryan Sheehan) that wows with their larger-than-life moves and expressions. Surprisingly, the least flamboyant is the title character. Pippin’s search is like anyone’s; he just wants his own “Corner of the Sky.” Alexander Boyle plays Pippin wonderfully, with a sweet naiveté and emotion. Is he looking for the stability Catherine (a stunning Emma Fitzpatrick) and Theo (an adorable Aiden Langhorne, sharing the role with Song and Phanuel Rauschenbach.) offer? Only time will tell!
Director James P. Byrne cast a blend of young and old, all of whom hold close the craziness of this show. The production numbers are all so good. Standouts abound. Berthe’s (Sara-Ann Semedo) “No Time at All” and Fitzpatrick’s ballad “I Guess I’ll Miss the Man,” were showstoppers in an abundant field of winning numbers. Norgeot’s intricate choreography was performed seamlessly. The simple set and lighting designed by Byrne worked by showcasing the singers and dancers through walls and windows opening. Tristan DiVincenzo’s costumes were funky and fun. J Hagenbuckle (sound design) and Matthew Kohler (technical director) were the icing on the cake with their contributions. Musical director Robert Wilder was right on the money with his band (Justin Torrellas, Tony Stevens, Monika Woods and Evan Eldredge). And as always here’s a nod to those behind the scenes: stage manager and light board operator Hannah McLaughlin, sound operator Kyra Brimdyr, backstage crew Seamus Sarin, assistant costumers Claude Danner and Robin McGuire, props Suzette Hutchinson and magic tricks by Richard Archer.
Theatergoers are so lucky on Cape Cod. Reserve your tickets for this magical show today!
at Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre
Through June 9, Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m.
Information and reservations: 508-432-2002 ext. 2 or www.capecodtheatrecompany.org