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‘Pippin’ brings local talent to the stage

Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy Sally Neel Brooke Hampton will play the role of Catherine in the Curtains Up Pagosa! production of “Pippin” June 28, 29 and 30 and July 3, 5 and 6 at Pagosa Springs High School.  Tickets are now on sale at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and will also be available at the door.

Photo courtesy Sally Neel
Brooke Hampton will play the role of Catherine in the Curtains Up Pagosa! production of “Pippin” June 28, 29 and 30 and July 3, 5 and 6 at Pagosa Springs High School.  Tickets are now on sale at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and will also be available at the door.

Talent in Pagosa Springs is abundant and Curtains Up Pagosa! will prove it when they bring the Tony Award winning play “Pippin” to the stage June 28, 29 and 30 and July 3, 5 and 6.

Tickets are on sale at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center —$15 (adults), $12 (seniors 65-plus), and $10 (students) — and will also be available at the door.  The play is rated PG for language and adult content.

An all-star cast will grace the stage, including 2012 PSHS graduate Brooke Hampton, in the role of Catherine, Pippin’s love interest.  Brooke has been a part of Curtains Up Pagosa! productions since she was 12 years old. Pagosa audiences have enjoyed watching her grow and develop her talent both as a singer and an actor. Last summer, she showed her flair for comedy in her hilarious portrayal of one of the stepsisters in “Cinderella.”

Although she is currently studying physics at Montana State University, Brooke has not given up the stage.  She continues to perform through the university chorale and a local swing dance group called “Swing Cats.” She declares that performing is and will remain a significant part of her life.

“Brooke is a wonderful example of the important role Curtains Up Pagosa! plays in the lives of our young actors,” said director Dale Johnson. “CUP provides opportunities for our students to discover and grow their skills through the performing arts. Brooke is a very talented young lady and it has been a joy to watch her grow as an actor and singer.  As with most of our students, she did not choose to make acting her career — most of our graduates pursue a wide variety of careers — but she has discovered that acting provides an important creative outlet in her life.  We are so proud to have her back on our stage and look forward to her performance.”

“Pippin” is set in France in the era of Charlemagne, but it is not a period piece, despite the character names.  The musical has the off-putting flavor of the musical “Cabaret,” presenting important questions disguised as entertainment.

The story is about Pippin, the son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne, who has just graduated from the University of Padua. He is obviously intelligent and well educated, but lacking in life experience.  Like so many young adults who are currently graduating from college today, he is asking the questions, “Who am I?,” “What am I to do with my life?,”  “What is my purpose?,”  “How can I make a difference in this world?,”  “Who will guide me?,”  “How do I get there from here?”

Pippin’s guide turns out to be a character that is portrayed as a magician, a devil’s advocate, an alter ego, simply called the Lead Player acting alongside his Group of Players.  The Lead Player guides Pippin through a variety of superficially significant life events, all designed by the Lead Player to fail in order to bring Pippin to the grand finale.  Pippin is a rather passive, uninvolved person who allows life to happen to him rather than taking charge.  He wants life to be significant without putting a great deal of personal effort into it.

The play has a surreal slightly disturbing feel to it, inviting the audience to be in on the journey.  The Lead Player takes Pippin into life experiences that seem glorious and significant, but are in reality superficial. These events lead to Pippin’s ultimate frustration, resignation, and disgust.  Clearly, the Lead Player is in control of the situations from the beginning, with all the Players conspiring against Pippin, and he has a specific end for Pippin in mind.  But things ultimately do not go as they are designed to go.  Pippin finally comes to terms with the realities of life and makes a choice, defying The Lead Player’s plan.

“We have a fantastic cast,” said Johnson. “They have really enjoyed the challenges of presenting a play that is outside our traditional realm. Pippin has brought us a great opportunity for growth as actors, dancers and singers.  I feel certain that our audiences once again will be very impressed with the depth of talent Pagosa Springs has to offer and the work CUP does to help develop that talent.”

Curtains Up Pagosa! is celebrating its 24th year of bringing high-quality theater entertainment to Pagosa audiences. All proceeds from these performances are used to assist arts programs in the schools, provide four-year scholarships for selected students majoring in the arts, and to provide mentoring opportunities for youth through the performing arts. To find out more about Curtains Up Pagosa! go to www.pagosamusicboosters.org.

This story was posted on June 20, 2013.