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From the perspective of director Charlie Krebs, Lakeland College's production of "Pippin" is invigorating, imaginative and positive - and that's just the rehearsals.
The Lakeland Theatre Department will present its inaugural spring musical, "Pippin," on March 6-8 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 9, at 2 p.m., in the Bradley Auditorium.
"We recently just sat and talked, and I said to the cast 'I think we are just sitting on a volcano of positive energy,'" Krebs said. "It's like everyone is infected with the energy of this musical. I think 'Pippin' is very ebullient anyway, the music is just invigorating. And the fact that we are doing a musical, people are just in love with that.
"Normally, when you get to this point, you're talking about hell week. But we were talking recently about how exciting these next two weeks would be. Some nights we've had three rehearsals running at the same time with dancing, singing and acting, but they were apart from each other. Then recently, it all came flooding together, and we're all able to see the results."
Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, played by Lakeland freshman Cody Linder, is in search of ultimate fulfillment. He searches everywhere he can think - war, politics, women - and never finds it, until at the last minute he discovers it was in the place he least expected it.
Other cast members include Emily Rendall (Leading Player), David Neese (Charles), Chris Fuerste (Lewis), Holly Zielinzki (Fastrada), Crystal Iverson (Berthe), Clarissa Dimel (Catherine) and Josh Kuhn (Theo).
"Pippin" marries staff and students from Lakeland's theatre and music departments, as Janet Herrick is serving as music director and costume designer, Jessica Mueller as choreographer and Walter Rich is conducting the musicians in the live orchestra.
Krebs said the original show, which features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz based on a book by Roger O. Hirson, has a very 1970s feel to it, but Lakeland's production will capture a contemporary flavor.
"Janet keeps coming down with costumes and costumes and they're fantastic," Krebs said. "They're filled with imagination and color. This whole show is amazingly theatrical, sort of a show within a show."
After staging a well-received run of "The Importance of Being Ernest" in the fall, Krebs said "Pippin" is a solid next step in the growth of Lakeland's theatre department.
"Other than it being a musical, it's a larger cast, and it's a larger challenge," Krebs said. "Now that I know the caliber of the performers and the level of talent here, I can start to mine that a little more. Having spent a semester here, I have a better understanding of the quality of people involved and a better idea of Lakeland's expectations, and how to make this show serve the college."
The enthusiastic response to the show by the college's music department is a sign of good things to come, Krebs said, both for the college's students and local audiences.
"I think there could be a great interest in students here studying musical theatre," Krebs said. "Doing a musical gives music students as additional outlet for performing, and also gives music education students a great learning experience because most of them will be involved in producing high school musicals in their careers.
"It's been a huge shot in the arm. The level of excitement in the Bradley is intense with the big set we're building and having a costume shop where Janet is making amazing things happen. Just seeing imagination run wild with this show invites more imagination, and that's exactly where we want to go to get people to realize the potential of the theatre here."
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for non-Lakeland students. Seniors can buy $8 seats for the Sunday matinee. Contact Deb Fale at (920) 565-1536 to order, or order online at www.lakeland.edu/AboutUs/theatre. There will be a bar in the lobby on Friday and Saturday night serving wine and beer.
Be sure to check out the Pippin Program (PDF 756K).