Two for the price of one

Freshman and sophomore double-cast for the lead role in spring musical 'Pippin'

Holly Hendershot, for the Yellow Jacket
Sophomores Allegra Ochs (left) as Fastrada, Joshua Hughes (middle) as Pippin and James Gallucci (right) as Lewis

With a cast of 18 students chosen and rehearsals underway, the countdown to this year’s spring musical has begun.

According to Edward Powers, professor of theatre and director of the show, there are about two months, 40 rehearsals and 100 hours of practice until the Goodwin Performing Arts Center opens its doors for this year’s performance of the musical “Pippin.”

The show “Pippin” is a 1972 musical recently revived on Broadway in 2013. Stephen Schwartz, the show’s famous composer also wrote the lyrics and music for the “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which was last year’s musical.

This year, Powers and co-directors Dr. Ronda DePriest, director of the music program, and Melanie Catana, director of choral music, decided to take the unique approach of double-casting the lead role.

“We felt that Pippin is a very demanding role, he’s in every scene, practically on every page of the script,” Powers said. “Being such a demanding role and having two delightful young men … we felt that we probably could double cast this lead as to not wear out their voices.”

Playing the character of Pippin are Joshua Hughes, sophomore digital design major, and Gabriel Reed, freshman pre-dental biology major. They expressed that they could not be more happy to be sharing the role and working alongside one another.

“When we both found out about our role, we were both super excited,” Reed said. “We both know what we need to do together to make a great show, while we both bring our own style and interpretations to the role of Pippin.”

Even though they will be splitting the part and each performing half of the shows, Hughes looks at this as an opportunity for him and Reed to build off of each other. 

“Since we will both be learning the part, we can work with each other and build the character even more than we could have alone. We can give and take ideas from each other, see what different actions look like on stage, a unique perspective you typically don’t have as an actor, and can help each other with any struggles that we have during the show,” Hughes said.

Powers said the reason for choosing “Pippin” for this year’s musical was not only the excellent music, but the message of the musical. He said despite the age of the musical, it still connects with current students.

“The premise of Pippin is a young man trying to find his place in this world. ‘Why am I here?’ What am I supposed to do? ’What’s in-store for me in this life?’ That’s a theme that so many students are asking themselves,” he said.

Both Hughes and Reed said they relate closely to this role.

“I feel a connection to this role, as I’m sure many will, because Pippin is just a guy who is trying to find his way in life and eventually realizes that simplicity is all he needs,” Hughes said.

Reed said he relates in the same way, as he is just trying to find his, “Corner of the Sky,” which is a song the character Pippin sings.

Powers said rehearsals consist of reading lines, blocking, reblocking and learning dances. Because a musical takes a lot of time to put together, Powers said the cast has to practice outside of rehearsal as well.

“I am continuously practicing and trying to build my character. ‘Pippin’ is a huge roller coaster of a show with vocal technique, acting performance and dancing,” Reed said.

For both Reed and Hughes, the biggest challenge with playing Pippin will be the vocal aspect.

“Vocally, this character is tough to do. He has to sing really high, which takes a toll on the voice after a while,” Hughes said.

Despite the challenges, Hughes and Reed are both excited about this opportunity and look forward to the upcoming performance on March 25-28.