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As Selma Arts Center’s ‘Pippin’ opens, let’s check in with director Summer Session

Selma Arts Center is the latest corner of the sky for “Pippin,” the Stephen Schwartz musical. The show is in its opening weekend and continues through Oct. 22. 

Pictured above: Jonathan Padilla plays the leading role in ‘Pippin.’  Photo: Selma Arts Center

“Pippin” received a major Broadway revival in 2013. For those who aren’t familiar, a plot summary: The musical uses the premise of a mysterious performance troupe, led by the Leading Player, to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince on his search for meaning and significance. The ‘fourth wall’ is broken numerous times during most traditional productions. The protagonist, Pippin, and his father, Charlemagne, are characters derived from two historical figures of the early Middle Ages, though the plot is fictional and presents no historical accuracy regarding either.

I asked director Summer Session a few questions about the Selma production during her busy tech week.

Q: Is the Selma production based on the latest Broadway revival?

A: The simple answer is yes. In a way we are paying homage to both the revival’s aesthetic and the original 1972 version’s storytelling. We pay tribute to both with a twist.

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Q: Like “Bring It On,” “Pippin” is known for its athleticism. How have you worked the various circus acts into the production?

A: Well, rather than going full circus, like trapeze and daring stunts, we have decided to go with a more performative direction by placing the setting in a twisted freak show tent. Rather than extremely athletic circus tricks we are presenting strange and odd magical moments. These moments may excite you, scare you, or make you feel uncomfortable in the best way.

Q: What do you think is the most important theme of the show?

A: The search for fulfillment. That is the whole story. Pippin, just like so many of us is on a search for his purpose and fulfillment in an extraordinary way. Ultimately, Pippin teaches us something very important. We all must come to accept that life is never going to be perfect and that what we have to do is find something and/or someone to care about, devote ourselves to, and be sure that we do the best we can while we’re at it.

Q: Anything to add?

A: I just want to emphasize how important it is for the theatre community as a whole to support each other. Especially in communities like this. That support comes in many different ways: seeing shows, making donations or even just checking in on your fellow artists and colleagues. I also would like to remind my theatre community here in the Central Valley how important it is for us as artists to expose ourselves to new or unfamiliar stories and experiences.

 

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Thank you, Donald. Once again you stimulate a desire to see an play or attend an event. After reading your review, I made it a point to get to 4,000 Miles and I loved it!! Thanks for continuing to be here for us!

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