It's Pippin, people 

Cultural Arts Theatre presents beloved musical

It’s a true play-within-a-play.

The musical Pippin follows the son of Charlemagne as he heads out to discover the secret of true happiness and find himself. Along the way, he is led by a chorus of medieval masquers, including the pivotal Lead Player.

Pippin looks for happiness in war, pleasure and power, but finds none of them are for him. Can the young prince find happiness simply by leading an ordinary life?

The musical was first staged in 1972. While set in the Middle Ages, it has a pop-influenced score. Pippin is being presented in Savannah by the city’s Cultural Arts Theatre May 1-17.

"Pippin is a universally relateable story about a young man searching for meaning in his life and ultimately deciding where that meaning lies," says Elizabeth Pyle, Performing Arts Coordinator for the Department of Cultural Affairs. "Everyone encounters that moment and that’s why the show appeals to such a diverse audience.

"And it isn’t just Pippin’s perspective that we see," she says. "From Berthe, Pippin’s 66-year-old grandmother, who is looking back on the meaningful moments of her life, to 10-year-old Theo, who is just beginning his journey, this show teaches that what makes life meaningful is unique and special for each individual. The trick is not to get so lost in the search that you miss the meaning you find."

Musicals and stage plays both have their challenges, Pyle says. "In a musical, there are so many different elements to juggle - the music, the dance, the scenes," she says. "The pieces get rehearsed separately and the story can feel kind of disjointed. But then everything gets woven back together and suddenly you have a show. That moment is truly extraordinary."

The production of Pippin is directed by Bridget Tunstall, and stars Corey Green as Pippin and Faith Boles as the Leading Player. Ryan McCurdy is the musical director, and Karen Burns in the choreographer.

"This is the first time in a long time Pippin has been done in the city of Savannah," Tunstall says. "It is a very, very diverse cast.

"We have people who have never done shows, people with backgrounds at SCAD, Cardinal Rep and Little Theater of Savannah," she says. "We also have a 10-year-old student named Bobby Wells who is playing the part of Theo. He will be making his stage debut."

The cast and crew have been working hard. "We’ve been doing intensive rehearsals," Tunstall says. "We’re integrating a lot of Fosse-style dancing.

"The entire concept of the show is a young man’s journey to discover himself," she says. "He does many different things to find his purpose in life. There is audience interaction with the actors and music, and it is a very inclusive show."

The cast features 15 actors. "Some of those people are playing multiple roles," Tunstall says. "The biggest challenge I would say has been time. Working in the community theater realm, we’re trying to find time so everyone can be here.

"People are in school, they have jobs and are working," she says. "They have to come late to rehearsal or they can’t come at all on some days."

The music is demanding. "The music is so diverse and some of it is so complicated that sometimes the musical rehearsals can be challenging," Tunstall says. "But the entire company has latched onto the music and gotten it down so well."


Tunstall is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design. "Both of my degrees are in theater with a directing focus," she says. "Directing really allows me to be part of everything I enjoy in theater.

"It helps me help people find their characters. It gives me access, so I’m plugged into all worlds of theater.

"I consider myself a people person and this allows me to work and interact with so many kinds of people," Tunstall says. "It’s where I feel most creative."


Boles has prepared for her role as the Leading Player by watching the 1981 Broadway production of Pippin that starred Ben Vereen as the Leading Player. "His natural dance ability and devilish character choices were some of the many things that made his performance flawless," Boles says. "With the help of our choreographer and my own flair, I can safely say I have found my ‘inner Ben Vereen.’"

The cast is diverse, but has worked well together, Boles says. "We all come from different theater backgrounds," she says. "Church plays, school productions, community and professional theater.

"We all have learned from each other and have grown as a cast," Boles says. "That’s one of the beauties of theater - meeting people from all different backgrounds and learning from each other’s experiences.

"Because this is a show within a show, it’s hard to get some of the situations across," she says. "The characters are very complex and often say one thing, but do another. However, with carefully analyzing the script and the help of our director, I feel that we interpret the show very well."

Boles was born and raised in Savannah and was actively involved in community and school theater until she was graduated from Savannah Arts Academy in 2003. "I went on to receive my B.F.A. in Music Theatre and Voice Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va," she says.

"I’m currently a professional actor who has been blessed to have worked at different regional theaters across the U.S.," Boles says. "I just finished doing a production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa, Ariz., and decided to audition for Pippin while being home until the end of May."

Boles always wanted to act and sing. "As a child, I had a suitcase of costumes - my mother’s old high-heeled shoes and hats," she says. "I would put on theatrical productions in my bedroom for hours at a time. I guess you can say that theater is my passion."

He may be a prince, but Pippin is also a lot like the boy next door. "Pippin is the story of young man who’s trying to find the meaning of life," Boles says. "I’m sure we can all relate to this scenario in one way or another.

"But I’ll bet your version doesn’t include crazy costumes, fun dancing, and powerful singing," she says. "This show will have you on the edge of your seat, for sure."


The musical follows Pippin, son of Charlemagne, the fabled King of France, who longs to discover the secret of true happiness and find himself.

When: May 1, 2, 8, 9 and 16 at 8pm and May 3, 10 and 17 at 3pm.

Where: Black Box at S.P.A.C.E., 9 W. Henry St.

Cost: $10 general admission, $7 seniors/students.

Info: 651-6783, www.savannahga.gov/arts.

is suitable for everyone, Tunstall says. "This is probably one of the most fun shows you’ll see in Savannah," she says. "It’s family friendly, light-hearted, and it has magic tricks and music. The story is valuable to every patron of every age."is Tunstall’s professional directing debut in Savannah. In all, she’s directed a dozen shows and was the assistant director for the Savannah Philharmonic’s The Merry Widow, but this is her first major musical.



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Linda Sickler

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