‘Pippin’ Promises Something for Everyone

Annette Ritzko, Editor-in-Chief

Samantha Midkiff
From left to right: Jacqueline Marchese, Aiden McAndrew, Natalie Deustch, Cordell Gresh, and Adam Ercolani
rehearse a song from “Pippin.”
From left to right: Jackie Nat, choreographer; Nicole Conrad, junior;
Adam Ercaloni, junior; Jacqueline Marchese, sophomore; Natalie
Deutsch, first year; Cordell Gresh, junior.

The Misericordia Players are set to perform the famed musical “Pippin.”

Jeff Kelly, Manager of Cultural and Special Events, Theater Director and director of “Pippin,” urges people to see the show because he believes everyone will relate to the story.

“The story is basically a young man right out of college, and it is a spoof or spin off of King Charlemagne and his son Pepin, being Pippin, looking for his purpose in life and looking for the meaning of life,” said Kelly.

He said the show highlights political issues that reflect modern day America.

“The show was written in the seventies, but there are a lot of parallels you can draw between back then, and now that if you just change the names and the faces, it works.”

Kelly and his directing staff knew they wanted live up to the standards “Godspell” performed last semester.

“’Godspell’ spoke to our community and where we stood as a society, at least in my opinion, and since we wanted to do another musical and that it was our first one in the fall, one of my stipulations was that it needs to be a musical of the caliber of Godspell,” said Kelly.

Kelly said he was originally unsure if the Players had the resources or talent to pull the show, but the found out how wrong they were when more than 40 people showed up for try-outs.

“We are a group of individuals from all backgrounds, from the health sciences to communications, history, football, Campus Ministry, commuters and residents – all walks of life from freshmen to graduate students that do this for fun, because we don’t have a performing arts major. This is not a requirement for anyone, it is our passion, our corner.”

He has that while the diversity of the cast and crew is the show’s strength, it also presents that biggest challenge because it is difficult to make a schedule.

“Everyone is doing a great job and the show will be fantastic, but we have individuals who have been to four or five rehearsals because of their schedules. But everyone has to step up to the plate and they have their own responsibilities and they are meeting them and exceeding them and I think that is the essential piece,” he said.

Although schedules have always been a challenge for Kelly and the cast, he never wants someone to have to choose between the theater and another activity they enjoy.

“Staying true to who we are and where I want to see our program go and what my vision of the mission of the MU Players being ‘All are welcome.’ I don’t want someone to ever have to choose between two things they love. We are going to find a way to make it work unless it is humanly impossible, and even then I won’t go down without a fight,” said Kelly.

Samantha Midkiff, junior communications major, plays Catherine, a widow and mother in the show.

“Catherine is kind of ditzy and scared but also one of the more important roles in the show. She is the turning point, and she pushes the idea that you don’t have to listen to what other people are saying. You can do what you want to do and that you make your own choices in life,” said Midkiff.

This is Midkiff’s first leading role, and she finds playing the character challenging but rewarding. She said she had to do her research.

“It’s a lot easier to break character than you think. I’m having problems with one of the emotional scenes where I am upset and angry, because I just can’t seem to get those emotions out at the moment, but I will get there,” said Midkiff.

Michela Torbik, sophomore speech-language pathology major, plays the role of Fastrada, the devious step-mother to Pippin.

“She’s fun and sassy and really adds a comical element to the play. She is also very different from any character that I have had to play before,” said Torbik.

Noah Schweiger, sophomore speech-language pathology major, also stepped outside his comfort zone in the role of Lewis, Pippin’s step-brother.

“Lewis is a low intellect, high muscles kind of character. He adds a lot of humor to the show, and is completely full of himself. I have always been uncomfortable with myself in every way so having to play such a big-headed character was different but fun,” said Schweiger.

In addition to leading characters there are players, the ensemble, that strengthen the show, said Dawson Kerch, sophomore pre-DPT psychology major.

“I think the players really add to it because seeing them react to the main characters just really adds a depth to the show. They are always involved and active in their performance,” said Kerch.

The one in charge of all the players is Leading Player,  Nicole Liebeknecht, a senior nursing major.

“She is in charge of all the other players, hence the name leading, and her role is to get Pippin to be part of her act. I would say she knows what she wants and often knows how to get it,” said Liebeknecht.

Liebeknecht thinks the message of the show is love.

“I think the overarching message is that love is such an immense power and even just struggling to find that love and finding yourself and learning to love yourself, how much power that can have not only on yourself but everyone around you,” said Liebeknecht.

Junior English and business major Adam Ercolani plays the main role of Pippin, which he said is a character he can relate to because he often wonders what his place is in the world.

“It’s kind of interesting to do that through the character too, and work through it that way,” said Ercolani. “I think the main message is that the struggle to find your place in the world is universal and everyone experiences it, but everything will work out and you will find everything you’ve been looking for in the place you would least expect it.”

“Come see Pippin, it’s going to be a show you won’t want to miss. It is a show everyone can relate to in some way shape or form,” Kelly added.

The Misericordia Players will perform Stephen Schwatrz’s “Pippin” Nov. 16, 17, and 18 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Lemmond theater.