'PIPPIN' tells the story of struggle, fulfillment On stage: Students at Western Maryland College perform the 1972 musical that details the life of Charlemagne's son.

November 10, 1995|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

For anyone who is dissatisfied with his or her life, the story of "PIPPIN" offers a lesson in fulfillment.

This production by drama students at Western Maryland College tells of the struggle of Charlemagne's son to find complete fulfillment in his life.

Although born a prince and heir to the throne of the Roman Empire circa 780, Pippin seeks yet more from life. This 1972 musical by Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz tells of Pippin's quest.

"The story is not really about Pippin and Charlemagne," said producer Ira Domser. "It's really about discovering the values of life, trying to discover the mystery of life.

"He wants to be an extraordinary person and finds that not being so extraordinary is better," Mr. Domser said.

The story is what Pippin, played by Ryan Keough, goes through to find complete fulfillment and what he finally discovers about it.

What makes the play interesting is the way it's told -- Pippin is just a vehicle for telling a modern-day story in a contemporary way.

Also, the characters frequently play more than one role, returning as part of the chorus or soldiers. And the music is completely modern -- a computer will provide synthesized sound.

Humor helps the play along as Pippin searches for fulfillment. A side plot has his stepmother, Fastrada, and half-brother, Lewis, seeking to overthrow the king and place the younger son on the throne.

Enter Charlemagne's mother, Berthe, played by Joanna Lajewski, who tells her grandson, "Now, don't take life so seriously. Just take things as they come along. Don't do too much planning and don't do too much thinking."

However, when Pippin goes to war, the violence of battle shocks him and he turns against his father and kills him and becomes king.

But peace and justice also fail to deliver the yearned-for fulfillment. So does sex, art, religion and the kingship -- Pippin still is not satisfied.

But then he finds the widow Catherine, who leads him to a simple life on a farm with her son.

"Pippin never finds complete fulfillment," said Jennifer Hess, assistant stage manager. "The lesson is there's nothing in life completely fulfilling -- you have to make the best of what you have."

The play features Ed Milliner as Charlemagne, Florence Douce as Fastrada, Corie McFaul as the leading player who tells the story, Jim Gross as Lewis, Katie Brown as Catherine and Matt Shilman as Theo (Catherine's son).

"PIPPIN" will be presented at 8 p.m. today, tomorrow, Sunday and Thursday and Nov. 17 and 18 on the main stage of Alumni Hall, Western Maryland College. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors over 65 and children under 12. Information: 857-2599.

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