Nutley High School’s Musical Has “Magic To Do”
Theater in Nutley High School kicked off during the 2017-2018 school year with a performance of Arthur Miller’s critically-acclaimed The Crucible. The play was performed in the NHS auditorium the weekend of November 3, 4 and 5. Then, on November 8, all students interested in the spring musical production gave up half of their lunch period for the reveal of the 2018 spring musical in the choir room. A sea of confused and ecstatic expressions filled the room as the sound of “Magic To Do” played from the radio. Within an hour after lunch that day, news spread that the selected musical for this year was Pippin. Auditions were held on December 5, and by December 8, the cast had been officially determined.
Pippin, a circus-inspired musical, has two well-known versions in the theatre community. The original first premiered in 1972, while the more modern revival premiered 2013 (pictured above). Mr. Michael Gurrieri, a NHS English teacher, is the director of Pippin. He explains that the NHS performance will be more inspired by the original due to the fact that the revival was abundant in dangerous stunts. While there are students who have ability to perform the gymnastics and acrobatics that would be involved, it would limit the pool of of those eligible to audition.
Interested students were told to memorize sixteen beats of any song, and an entire monologue for their audition. Many students were attempting to get a role, so the pressure had been immense. Those who were able to obtain a role will wear mime and circus-dancer inspired attire and makeup.
After what Mr. Gurreri described to be a tough casting process, the leads were determined. Eric Sebek will be Pippin; Mathew Rodriguez will be the Leading Player; Katarina Zonic will portray Catherine; Wesley Gardner will be Charles; Luke Surretsky will play Lewis, Olivia Grzywinski will portray Fastrada; and Ally Rubens will play Berthe. Along with leads there are also 20 supporting roles as well as the players and chorus.
When asked why he decided that Pippin would be a good idea for the theatre club to perform, he stated, “We’ve been looking for a show that would be good for our talent pool and would also be different from productions we’ve done here at Nutley.”
The musical lives up to its reputation of being unique, with its surreal and dark plot. According to broadway.com, the plot of Pippin “tells the story of Pippin, a young prince who longs to find passion and adventure in his life. To prove his loyalty to his distracted father, King Charles, Pippin goes to war. But when the Leading Player convinces the prince to fight tyranny, Pippin kills Charles and takes over the throne. Realizing his mistake, Pippin begs the Leading Player to bring his father back to life, and she obliges. The prince falls in love with Catherine, a widow with a young son. Pippin struggles to decide whether he should settle down and pursue a peaceful life or continue to make magic with the dazzling troupe of performers.”
According to Mr. Gurrieri, the 1972 version also exuded an especially “medieval and dark” vibe, while maintaining itself as a comedy. He says he is optimistic that each of these elements will create a fun and amazing experience for those who attend the NHS performances on Thursday through Sunday, March 8 -11.