Children’s theater is a place where I think a good number of us are very comfortable with. When I walked through the doors of Plano Children’s Theater to see Pippin, it felt as if I was going back to my roots. I really found my love for the theatre at PCT and it was awesome to be able to go back and see a show that I truly love. Here’s the thing, it’s a children’s theater so I knew I couldn’t be going in with the expectations set as high as I usually have them for a college or professional production. That being said, a majority of these actors blew me away considering their age, and I was very impressed with the fact that a large portion of the original Fosse choreography remained intact.
The first time I saw Pippin it was the national tour of the revival with the now famous circus theming in the forefront, which was clearly a major influence for this production. However, what I really loved was at the beginning they had all the actors come on stage
and act like it was call time. Everyone was in hair and makeup but in their normal clothes, Brad Weatherford’s Leading Player was not only the ringmaster of the show but also the director. Speaking of Weatherford, his Leading Player was fantastic. It was clear that Weatherford was a little under the weather, but he pushed through and put on a fantastic show. What I loved most about his Leading Player was that he was tired and when I say that I don’t mean in an energy level, but his Leading Player was more exasperated when it came to dealing with a new Pippin and with Catherine’s “unprofessionalism.” But was was really enjoyable was the amount of passion that shined through this exasperation, he wanted to put on the best show possible for the audience, but there were all of these roadblocks in his way.
Pippin was portrayed by Andy Stratton, and he was full of this amazing zest for life at the
beginning, but where I truly believe his Pippin was when he gave up on finding his true place in the world and went into a depressive state. There was a moment when he just looked out into the audience and I saw the light in his eye fade as he decided that he would never find his corner of the sky. And watching him return the favor and try and bring little Theo out of his depression was one of the sweetest scenes I’ve seen so far this year. Something else that I adored about this performance was that his interactions with all the people he came across were so genuine that it was incredibly refreshing.
Now as much as Pippin is about the titular character, this production was made by its women: Fastrada, played expertly by Madeline Norton, and Catherine, portrayed with an almost manic energy by Hannah Holtz. Holtz had fantastic chemistry with Stratton, and it was evident the second that he burst onto the stage. She was a very loving character, and her interactions with Megan McMurray, who played Theo, were simply heartwarming. Holtz’s voice is bananas, her belt is incredibly strong and she has these high notes that just soar. Her comedic timing was so tight that I couldn’t help but smile when she was onstage.
Now I don’t know what happened most of this show because Madeline Norton took it and ran away with this show the second she stepped onstage.
Her Fastrada was cool and calculating all while being hidden behind a saccharine smile. Not to mention she pulled focus in every scene she was in in all of the best ways, and what was even better is that you could always see the gears in her head turning so that she can get her way. Her solo number: “Spread a Little Sunshine” was a showstopper, and perhaps what was most amazing about this number was how sexual they allowed this scene to be. There was always an incestuous element to her relationship with Lewis, and I was very surprised that a children’s theater allowed that to not only be there but to be highlighted. Anyways, Norton’s Fastrada, while conniving, was also a little undone mentally. There was something about the way that she would address the audience that was unsettling, but it would be gone as fast as it was noticeable which made it even more enjoyable and made me want to watch her every second she was on stage.
There was Magic to do and it was done. I want to congratulate the cast of PCT’s Pippin, and I wish all of the graduating seniors the best of luck on their future endeavors.
Also a HUGE thank you to Mackenzie White who took all the photos that have been used here. Please go follow her Instagram @kenziemayphotography.