The student production of the musical comedy "Pippin" continues through Sunday at Saint Louis School.

‘Pippin’ provides
delightful magic

"Pippin": St. Louis School production repeats 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 general and $10 for students, seniors and military. Call 739-4896.

Review by Jonathan Dang
Special to the Star-Bulletin

The Saint Louis School production "Pippin" presents the conflict of a young prince who can't find fulfillment.

Like any youth, Pippin embarks on a journey to find happiness and fulfillment -- his "corner of the sky." He seeks it in the glories of battle and war, the lure of women and sex, art, religion and the machinations of politics. This anachronistic musical comedy leaves us asking, "What is happiness?" and urges us to re-evaluate our own lives and aspirations.

The musical comedy by Stephen Schwartz, which opened Friday at the Mamiya Theatre on the St. Louis School campus, is narrated by the omnipresent Leading Player (senior Micah Tiedemann), who, in the opening scene, invites the audience to "watch the magic."

The story begins circa 780 A.D. in the Holy Roman Empire and Pippin, son of Charlemagne the Emperor, has just graduated from college and has valiantly joined his father's campaign as a soldier. After battling alongside his stepbrother, Lewis, he concludes that being a war hero is not for him. This becomes a catalyst for the remaining scenes.

"Pippin" is a story within a story. Tiedemann strikes an authoritative figure and does an excellent job of developing the storyline. His convincing acting and comedic shenanigans add to the sincerity of the role and the audience welcomed each of his appearances.

As Pippin, senior Guy Rodrigues has several solos and his lively dancing provided several entertaining scenes. On the whole, Rodrigues played the part with confidence and poise.

Other noteworthy performances came from senior Kaiea Chung as Emperor Charlemagne, who commanded the audience's attention with a powerful stature and dominant voice; Kamehameha senior Camissa Hill as Fastrada, Pippin's stepmother, whose zeal and skillful singing won over the audience; as well as Kamehameha senior Camille Carter, as Pippin's love interest, Catherine, who played the part with a sweet innocence that begged for sympathy when Pippin decides to leave her.

The bright costumes, designed by Marcelo Pacleb, complemented the set. The stage was painted a bright gold with pillars of oranges and greens and other subtle colors. The use of different backgrounds and lighting was crucial to the storytelling. The set was simple and lacked flamboyance, placing the focus on the cast and ensemble performances.

Kyle Kakuno, drama director for the Saint Louis Center for the Arts, does a superb job in presenting the unique and complicated musical in an entertaining manner. Without a doubt, the highlight of the production was the humor. Several scenes intended to be sensual and intimate were transformed by hilarious innuendoes. It was serious when it needed to be, but most of the time, it was laugh-out-loud delightful.

The fun came from the eccentricity of the high school cast. Many of the scenes were distinctive from other musical and Broadway productions simply because they were performed by younger actors and actresses.

Although there were a few minor sound and music kinks in the opening scenes, the cast managed to deliver a magical performance.

Jonathan Dang is a senior at Saint Louis School. He is editor of the school newspaper, captain of the speech and debate team, and a four-time veteran of the state science fair in computer science and psychology. He plans to be a corporate attorney.

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