For its 41st year of summer theater, the West Hartford Summer Arts Festival will put on Pippin at William H. Hall High School on July 27, 28, and 29 at 7:30 p.m.
By Gillian Hixson
Director and choreographer of this summer’s West Hartford Summer Arts Festival production Kate Morran said that she and the rest of the company are thrilled about about Pippin – a show that they’ve been thinking about for a long time.
This is the first time in 41 years that West Hartford’s SAF will perform Bob Fosse’s Pippin. “This show has been in my head for years,” Morran added.
Morran described the production as a “fun piece” that leads with dance. Morran’s rendition includes one piece of original Bob Fosse choreography alongside the designs of Morran and two guest choreographers, Morran explained to We-Ha.com.
Of the cast and crew, Morran said the group is “incredibly focused.” Since June 26, students from Hall High School, Conard High School, Simsbury High School, Northwest Catholic, and Kingswood Oxford, as well as some college students, have been meeting every weeknight from 6 to 10 p.m to rehearse the show.
“They are the most dedicated young theater actors from each school,” Morran said.
We-Ha.com was able to intrude on one night’s rehearsal, and the focus and drive of each cast member, on and off stage, was apparent. A group of talented individuals practiced the choreography that accompanies the song “Glory”; the pit orchestra could be heard playing their instruments down the hall; crew members and stage managers walked above the stage, working on lighting and the set; and even students who were not on stage rehearsing could be seen practicing their lines.
Kenneth Galm, a recent graduate of Hall High School who will play the role of Pippin in this summer’s show, is grateful for the opportunity to play his first major role. “It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s been really exciting and it’s great to be singing a lot of songs,” Galm said.
Hayley Neubert and Janey Lorenzo, both featured players in Pippin, mirrored Galm’s excitement. “It’s my first SAF show,” Neubert revealed.
As featured players, Neubert and Lorenzo explained that they play several different roles throughout the entire show. “It’s a lot of character work,” Lorenzo said. “It’s really fun. There are a lot of ways to get across to people.”
“You can be creative,” Neubert added.
The creativity of the show extends beyond just the actors on the stage, however, to include both the pit orchestra and the deck crew. Deck crew chief Emily Lafreniere explained to We-Ha.com that the stage crew consists of about 10 students, all of which work to make sure the performance runs as smoothly as possible.
Artistic director Sara Demos Avery described Pippin as “not as cut and dry” as the shows the Summer Arts Festival has put on in the past. “There’s a lot more creative control and flexibility to make it your own,” Demos Avery said.
But, in agreement with Morran, Demos Avery said the cast and crew have “risen to the challenge beautifully.”
SAF’s production of Pippin will be Demos Avery’s eighth show as artistic director, but her past experiences with SAF include stage management and acting.
“Every year has its own personality,” Demos Avery said. “This show is beyond worth the price of admission,” Morran added.
There will be three performances of Pippin: July 27, 28, and 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hall High School auditorium. Tickets can be purchased online at www.westhartfordsaf.com. Any questions regarding the show can be also answered by calling 860-969-1723.
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