Polytech High School's drama club performers will delight audiences and maybe even learn a few life lessons with the Tony Award-winning musical "Pippin," scheduled to open at the Schwartz Center for the Arts on Saturday.
This avant-garde musical, which returned to Broadway last summer, seems to have no boundaries with its handful of anachronisms and self-aware characters who never hesitate to chat with the audience.
"When we were blocking one of the first scenes, Mrs. Crossen (co-director) told me, 'go ahead and turn your back to the audience,'" said junior Kevin Hartigan, who portrays Pippin. "I sort of cringed because that's so … blasphemous."
But the abstract nature of "Pippin" is one if its greatest strengths, "and that curiosity kind of drew me to the play," said Hartigan, of Dover.
Based in the 1800s, the young prince Pippin is frustrated and on a quest to find fulfillment. He tries to prove himself to his kingly father, Charlemagne, on the battlefield. In addition, he attempts to fill this void by entering politics, exploring his passion and temptation for women, and even by living the life of a commoner, until realizing everything he was looking for was already inside of him.
But before Pippin discovers this, he has to contend with the sinister Lead Player, a flamboyant and magical character who heavily influences the world Pippin and the others operate in.
The sneaky Lead Player might seem like Satan, but actor Tommy Price says that isn't the case.
"My character is the conscience of everyone," said Price. "I kind of have the devil in me."
While the story line in "Pippin" is intriguing, its big, show-stopping soundtrack is what won Sharon Crossen, the co-director, over.
"Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and he's the one that did 'Godspell' and 'Wicked,'" she said. "I just think he's a wonderful lyricist and instrumentalist. That's what drew me to it."
Crossen's counterpart, Co-Director Ian MacDonald, appreciates how "Pippin" reflects William Shakespeare's famous phrase: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
"It shows the stage," said MacDonald. "It shows all our dilemmas in life and the choices we try to pursue. It shows whether or not we want to go with a military career in life like Pippin pursues. Do we want to become a politician, some type of ruler, or do we just want a simple life, almost like a farmer?"
Despite the silliness that entrenches "Pippin," Hartigan believes the message behind the musical is on point.
"I definitely agree with the moral of the story," said Hartigan. "You don't have to be some big war hero or king or God-like figure to find satisfaction and fulfillment in life."
Page 2 of 2 - IF YOU GO
WHAT 'Pippin' presented by Polytech High School's drama club
WHEN 7 p.m., Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday
WHERE Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St., Dover
COST $8 in advance; $10 at the door
INFO Visit schwartzcenter.com or call 678-5152