Red Devil Dramatics “spreads a little sunshine” with the production of “Pippin”

A review of RV’s latest theatrical performance

Maya Martin, Arts & Culture Editor

For 49 years, “Pippin” has been performed throughout the world and has captured the hearts of so many who watch it. The bedazzled costumes, flamboyant dances and clever characters make the Red Devil Dramatics’ performance of “Pippin” a show to remember.

“Pippin” is a show within a show about a young prince, Pippin, who wants to find out what his meaning and aspirations are in life. He journeys through the show combating his own struggles to find who he is combined with the pressures from the rest of the characters, in particular, the Leading Player, who convinces him to try different things in life including killing his own father. Although containing some heavy themes and risqué scenes, the show is widely known as a charming coming-of-age musical. To differ from other well-known versions of “Pippin,” RV Red Devil Dramatics decided to take a different approach.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Maniglia

Most “Pippin” productions you will find are very similar and cookie-cutter performances; however, director and theater teacher Mr. Michael Pliskin decided to go another route. Pliskin is known as a director who loves to “push the limits” and explore different concepts in his productions that build off of the original show while adding a unique “RV flair.”

“A lot of times Pliskin will add in his own artistic visions through costumes, props, sets and directions,” said junior Aidan Holmes, who played Pippin in the red cast, “It definitely sets us apart from other shows and helps us tell totally new stories with more themes and morals.”

In this year’s production of “Pippin,” Pliskin decided to go in a direction that hones in on the highs and lows high school students face after the COVID-19 pandemic and their future to come.

In a note from the production staff, the playbill states, “Look through the modern lens of higher education, professional occupation, and new-age love in a post-pandemic world.”

A brilliant take on the musical, the audience was wowed with different elements like a slideshow of social media posts playing in the background, business attire and briefcases and even modernized clothes representing the students of present-day RV. One of my favorite elements of the show was not even included in the original script, the pre-show. The pre-show was about 20 minutes during the time the audience was taking their seats and getting settled into the Performing Arts Center. It consisted of the casts forming different positions and stances around the stage in these modernized clothes as if they were students about to put on a show, or, the Red Devil Dramatics version of the play within a play.

Although Pliskin decided to take this approach on the musical, one key element remained the same: the mix between the imaginary and natural world. So many elements in the show blend between the reality of the characters in “Pippin” and what is happening in the show within “Pippin.” Although this can leave some audience members confused, I find it a beautiful way to connect with your inner child and feel that sense of light-hearted imaginary fun once again.

Sitting in the audience, you could feel the electricity coming from the stage with spunky characters, lively dances and such an animated cast. Both casts, red and white, were phenomenal in properly executing their adaptation of “Pippin” while showcasing their talent for a diverse audience. The show consisted of so many different themes, musical numbers and types of characters that there was something for everyone to enjoy. Personally, my favorite character was Catherine, Pippin’s love interest, who I feel really highlighted the underlying message of the musical.

“She was the first person with genuine feelings for Pippin and the first to stray from the plot,” said senior Ayana Diaz, who played Catherine in the red cast.“She’s the character that rebels against the story, and breaks free of Leading Player’s grip… For me, it was really important to emphasize the fact that she was a real person with real emotions and aspirations. Overall, my goal as Catherine was to really hone in on her free spirit and show the audience how her rebellious nature affected the plot.”

I personally felt overwhelmed with enjoyment from the amount of talent on the stage and cannot wait for more RV productions in the future. With no surprise, the amazing cast, crew and production staff definitely “spread a little sunshine” on the RV stage this past weekend.