PIPPIN Kicks off Carnegie’s Diverse Theater Season

The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center kicks off its 2011-2012 season with the provocative tale of young Pippin’s relentless journey through politics, war, sex, and marriage seeking his “corner of the sky.” PIPPIN’s tale of self-discovery is itself edgy and glossy; the score is bright and clever; and the Carnegie production promises all the glam its audience can handle: “young, spry, sexy dancers and performers is what this show needs,” reports Joshua Steele, The Carnegie’s Managing Director, “and we’ve got them.”

More than half of the production’s cast is comprised of the region’s top young talent from the award-winning musical theatre programs at Northern Kentucky University, The University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, and Wright State University.

Adventurous, insatiable young Pippin is played by Chris Stewart, a gifted Nebraska native who is active with the the Children’s Theater of Cincinnati, the Showboat Majestic, the Cincinnati Opera, and the Commonwealth Theatre Company.

The fresh pizzaz of the young talent is matched by the professionalism and experience of Greater Cincinnati theatre favorites including Deb Girdler, Brooke Rucidlo, and Jim Stump. Girdler, whose resume boasts 40 years of stellar performances including a record-breaking 46 parts on the Showboat Majestic and 25 critically-acclaimed turns at the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, takes on the comedic role of Pippin’s grandmother, Berthe. A show-stopping number in the first act filled with verve and energy lets Girdler truly shine. Rucidlo, regarded as one of the area’s top rising young talents, plays PIPPIN’s non-traditional ingénue, Catherine. Stump, the Artistic Director of Cincinnati’s New Edgecliff Theatre was last seen as Mr. Bumble in Carnegie’s production of Oliver! Here, he appears in the role of Pippin’s father, Charles.

PIPPIN challenges as it inspires. “It is a very self-aware show,” Steele says, “When you walk in, you are completely aware that you are watching a show. It satirizes the traditional theatrical process and all the things we expect from it.”

The show is delivered by a complex, talented production team. PIPPIN marks the second time the Carnegie has partnered with Commonwealth Theater Company, the professional production arm of Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Theater and Dance. Commonwealth contributes the peerless vision of multiple Acclaim Award Winners, Ken Jones (director) and Jamey Strawn (music director). In 2008, the pair brought the critically acclaimed Carnegie / Commonwealth collaboration of Jesus Christ Superstar, which set and still holds Carnegie theatre attendance records.

The Carnegie starts its season with the wile and sheen of PIPPIN and ups the ante with its second production. From November 4-20, 2011, Carnegie joins with CCM Drama to bring the regional premiere of In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, about a doctor at the dawn of electricity who invents the vibrator to treat hysteria in women. “The content of it probably pushes the envelope for us at The Carnegie,” reports Steele.

The second half of the Carnegie season is much more traditional. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I will be presented in concert with musicians from the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra from January 20-29, 2012. The season closes with Pump Boys & Dinettes running April 13-29, 2012. “We have some nice variety this season,” concludes Steele, “and PIPPIN will kick us off!”

PIPPIN will feature eight performances, all during weekends between August 19, 2011 and September 3, 2011. Tickets may be purchased through The Carnegie Box Office at 859.957.1940 (open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:00 pm) or
online .

PIPPIN picture provided.