Pippin enchants the Keith-Albee Theater

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Magic, acrobatics, stunts and songs all lit up the stage of the Keith-Albee Theater Tuesday when the Broadway revival of “Pippin” came to the Huntington theater for the first time in the musical’s history.

“Pippin” tells the story of the young prince Pippin, son of the King Charlemagne, who, after graduating from school, goes on an adventure to find meaning in his life. His quest takes him from being a soldier, to an artist and many other attempts at fulfillment.

The musical featured many Broadway songs, including “Magic to Do,” “No Time at All” and “Glory.” Alongside the music, the songs were accompanied by acrobatic stunt-work involving blindfolds, fire and hoops.

“You can call them ‘magic tricks’ because they happen so quickly on stage,” said Erica Cianciulli, who plays the role of Pippin’s stepmother, Fastrada.

During her song, “Spread a Little Sunshine,” Cianciulli makes multiple “quick-changes,” changing costumes dramatically and within seconds, typically behind a curtain or other stage props during her song.

This production of “Pippin” marks Cianciulli’s national touring debut.

“This is really my first ‘big thing,’” Cianciulli said. “I’ve done tons of musicals, but nothing as big as this.”

“Pippin” is presented in a unique “play within a play” style, with the “Leading Player” introducing the other actors who will be performing “Pippin.”

“As a circus troupe, we choose a play to play each night. And this one happens to be ‘Pippin,’” Cianciulli said.

The play also includes many instances addressing the audience and the play itself.

“We do break the fourth wall a lot,” Cianciulli said.

The combination of stunts, music and magic left an impression on the Keith-Albee audience.

“I think the choreography was excellent,” said Christine Anton, a Huntington resident who won tickets to see the show in a raffle. Anton said “the voices, the music, the magic” were the show’s highlights.

“I’ve watched this play for several years. This is one of the plays that got me into theater,” Tyler McComis, a sophomore studying forensic chemistry at Marshall, said.

“I wasn’t disappointed. There were some things that got left out, but overall it was a really, really good play,” McComis said.

The musical was presented by the Marshall Artists Series, and is the last live show being put on by the series for the season. The next season will begin in the fall of 2017.

“I think its been a great season,” Angela Jones, the marketing director for the Marshall Artists Series, said.

“You’ve had icons like Tony Bennet and Gavin DeGraw, and then the classic Broadway shows like ‘42nd Street’ and ‘Pippin,’” Jones said. “It’s been full of variety and lots of opportunities for students to see great shows.”

Austin Creel can be contacted at [email protected].

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