On February 24 and 25, the Concord Academy community was treated to an entertaining evening courtesy of the 2023 Winter Mainstage, Pippin. A unique and magical story, Pippin proved a massive spectacle of a musical. The musical features a traveling performance troupe putting on a show within the show about the character Pippin. The show tells the story of the first-born son of King Charlamagne looking for his purpose in life. This journey leads the titular character to kill his father, bring peace to his land, and fall in love. Pippin spends the show searching for anything and everything that will make him feel extraordinary, and the show concerns itself with themes such as the choice between fantasy and reality.
Rika Okamoto, one of the directors of the Dance Department, shared how the Performing Arts Department Heads came to a consensus about this show, and the combination of multiple different groups working together to produce the show. Last year in a department meeting, theater faculty member Megan Schy Gleeson, Performing Arts Department Head Michael Bennett, and co-directors of the CA Dance Project Okamoto and Alex Brady decided to collaborate. In addition to the collective efforts of director, music director, and choreographers, Pippin required a skilled cast of actors, 11 talented dancers, hardworking stage manager Kelly Kong ’24 and assistant stage manager Jacob Robbins ’26, tech crew, and even a magic coordinator, who taught the actors tricks that were incorporated into the show.
Okamoto also shared that, in part, the decision to choose Pippin came from it being Brady’s first performance experience, right in Concord. There were many alternatives in discussion, but Pippin was a very special show for Brady. He, Okamoto, Bennett, and Schy Gleeson ultimately decided that it would be a perfect way to incorporate all disciplines of the performing arts at CA. Regarding the involvement of the dance project, Okamoto shared that the dancers both perform as a collective during certain songs, in smaller groups for others, and alongside the ensemble in the rest. Okamoto commented, “Pippin was good because some musicals don’t have big dance numbers, so we [chose] a musical with lots of dance numbers.” It was an action-filled and high energy show, and everyone involved participated in multiple ways. Actors were singing, singers were dancing, and dancers were working with the tech crew to move sets in between scenes. “[There are] a lot of people on stage, and you know the PAC is not that big of a stage, but it’s fun,” Okamoto said.
Pippin was a meaningful medley of CA's Performing Arts programs. Okamoto noted her appreciation in seeing members of the theater, music, and dance departments work together as a kind and friendly community. “Different departments, but dancers and singers and actors mingling, it’s one big family and I love seeing that.” The cast of this wonderful show came together just as the traveling troupe of the show did, and just like Pippin himself, the audience exited the show feeling happy and fulfilled.