“Pippin” opens 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre and will run for the following week. The show is about a young man trying to find the meaning of life and, subsequently, fulfillment and happiness.
“I think that’s something a lot of college kids, well any of us really, can relate to,” Director Kenneth L. Roberson said.
Roberson is responsible for both directing and choreographing the latest IU production. “Pippin” tells the story of King Charlemagne and his titular son “Pippin,” and it is set in the Middle Ages during the Holy Crusades.
"Pippin" is a spectacle to watch. The show is a popular production, one of the most recognizable names in musicals, but Roberson said he believes the IU talent pool is their special X-factors.
“They have rigorous schedules for subjects outside of here, rehearse their own shows, constantly working toward their craft,” Roberson said. “They’re all self-motivated and it shows.”
Adam Hass-Hill, a senior musical theater major, stars as Pippin. He said he is looking forward to these upcoming performances, but also looks toward his future beyond IU. He hopes to attend Yale for his MFA. This path he is on started with Pippin.
“I saw it when I was 8,” Hass-Hill said. “It was one of the first shows I saw as a kid where I understood what was going and on and it was just incredible.”
Hass-Hill's Pippin is conflicted and confused. He grapples with feeling empty, despite being a soldier and the heir to his father’s throne.
While Pippin might seem as one of the musical’s simplest characters on the surface, Hass-Hill believes there is a lot of depth to be explored.
“I’ve found him as we’ve went,” Hass-Hill said. “It’s amazing when you can start in one place with a character and finish somewhere completely different.”
Sophomore Victoria Wiley is playing her first lead role. She serves as Leading Player, the devious narrator of the show.
“It’s been an incredible experience. I don’t think it could have gone much better, honestly,” Wiley said. “Kenneth is one of the most fostering directors I’ve ever met.”
Just as visually stunning as the characters in their costumes is the set they inhabit. Porous walls and a shifting overhead sun, all wrapped in cellophane, make the light and colors bounce.
Jeremy Smith, a third year MFA student and the set designer, conceived the idea while in London this summer through an IU study abroad program. It was the stained glass and the way the light reflected into the cathedrals that inspired him.
“It’s like a kaleidoscope,” Smith said. “The set needs to appear in motion, like it is always moving. When we had the idea, we knew it had to be this.”
Roberson said he is proud of the teamwork across all sections of the show.
"It's very collaborative," Roberson said. "It's making every element inform one other. Stage informing design. Lighting informing acting. These actors are so good. They can sing, dance and act. I call them triple threats."