Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

BWMT ‘Pippin’ explores original Bob Fosse choreography

Bejamin Michael Hall
Left to right: Bebe Moss and Jack Prisco perform their roles on stage for “Pippin”

Guest directed by Nathan Henry, the BWMT production of “Pippin” utilizes the Bob Fosse choreography, utilizing isolations to convey the story.

“Pippin” revolves around a prince who becomes heir to the throne, searching for purpose. The story is told to the audience by a traveling troupe of actors led by the character, Leading Player.

Greg Daniels, head of the dance program and choreographer for the Baldwin Wallace Musical Theatre, has chosen to choreograph the show based in the style of Fosse, the original director of “Pippin.”

Daniels said the style has become a “dying art” since Fosse’s passing, and it is essential that students know this style.

Story continues below advertisement

“It is a different style than what people are doing now, and knowing this style will expand their horizons for the knowledge of different material,” Daniels said. “It is left to the people still trying to teach the new generation so that this material can still have life.”

Daniels said Fosse was known for the choreographing through isolations, where the dancer would move one part of their body while keeping all other parts still.

“‘Pippin’ has underlying sensual themes that can be expressed through a shoulder movement, as opposed to making it graphic,” Daniels said.

Daniels said that he along with the Laura Berg, assistant professor of acting & directing and the intimacy coordinator for the production, have worked together to bring to life aspects of the original production successfully, but to do so in a way that everyone is comfortable.

“We always do what we call ‘check-ins,’ which are done every night before rehearsals and before the shows to make sure that there are no issues and, if issues do arise, to look to see what they are,” Daniels said.

Daniels said learning the Fosse choreography has been more of a learning curve for students than a struggle, requiring the performers to overcome the fear of “looking wrong.”

“When you first start learning the choreography, it feels like you look like a foreign alien, and then suddenly it clicks,” Daniels said.

Daniels has much experience with the musical, as he was cast as the character of Lewis in a production of “Pippin” in 1998.

“When I was allowed to choreograph the show, I wanted to revisit that Fosse world and that was one of the reasons that I asked Nathan, ‘Are you up for this?’ Since that is what he also grew up with, he was very much in tune to be able to do that.” Daniels said.

While the show utilizes the choreography of its original production, the script differs from the original version in using the “Revival” script from the production directed by Diana Paulus.

Daniels said that the difference lies in the fact that the role of Leading Player is requested to be female-presenting in the revival script, and the opening number is different.

“‘Magic’ [the opening number] was originally more magic-oriented with illusions being used, but in the ‘Revival,’ Paulus turned it into a more circus themed because the whole show gets deconstructed at the end,” Daniels said.

Compared to the usual amount of cast members for the production, which is about twenty, BWMT’s production is “double cast.”

“We cast that amount of people so they can be on the stage, and I want the students to understand that even if you are not in a number, learn it, because knowledge is power. You never know if you might have to do the show again someday,” Daniels said.

Jack Anthony Ina, the production coordinator for the BWMT production and a BW alumnus, said they have not seen any significant challenges with coordinating “Pippin.”

“Since it is a big cast, it has a lot of moving pieces, but there are no challenges that would be different for any other production,” Ina said.

Ina said there have been some minor budget changes, requiring the team to re-work some of their plans.

“We have an excellent team who knows how to work with their budget; for example, scene shop, costume shop, and lighting team have been very adaptable to everything we need,” Ina said.

Nelia Rose Holley, senior theater acting and directing student, is playing the role of Berthe in the “Magic Cast.”

Holley was cast as a non-music theatre student, which Holley said is a “rare occurrence.”

“It is truly an honor, and I am excited,” Holley said.

Holley said that when getting to know her role, research, which involves reading over lines and singing the songs Berthe sings, gave a better idea of who she is.

“With the help of our director, I have realized her complexities. She is a grandma, but she is also frisky and fun,” Holley said. “However, she is also more than that. I think and feel just based on that what she says alone that she has been through a lot in life.”

Holley said that Berthe’s character is looking to encourage her grandson but also reminds herself how far she has come and that she is doing a good job.

“Just by singing her song and giving that encouragement, it helps her grandson with his decisions in the show,” Holley said.

Daniels said the audience should expect to go on a “journey” as the show unfolds.

“I am hoping that the musical numbers and the choreography enhance their journey; some people like the dancing aspect more than the book scenes of the story, and some people want to see the book scene more… there is something for everybody,” Daniels said.

“Pippin” will be performed at Kleist Center for Art & Drama Nov. 9-11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Exponent
Our Goal

Please consider a financial contribution to the student journalists of Baldwin Wallace University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, cover our annual website hosting costs, and other expenses so that we can best serve the BW and Berea, OH communities. The Exponent does not operate for profit – all donations will be put directly back into the paper so that we can continue to produce the highest quality journalism possible.
- The Exponent Editorial Board

More to Discover
Donate to The Exponent
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Hate speech, abuse, bullying or threats of any kind will not be tolerated. Spam, advertising and illegal material are prohibited.
All THE EXPONENT Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *