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Troupe of actors depict travels and trials of "Pippin"

The royal family includes seated, Pippin’s grandmother Berthe, (Eden Jackson), stepmother, Fastrata (Sarah Ramsey); above, Pippin (Luke Ensign), Charlemagne (Chris Prchal) and Lewis (David Fehr.)

By Linda Sailer

The travels and trials of Pippin, eldest son of Charlemagne, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, come to life when his story is told on the Dickinson High School auditorium stage.

The Drama Department will present the Broadway musical, “Pippin,” at 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday in the DHS Risser Auditorium.

The life of Pippin is acted out by a troupe of actors led by the Leading Player, who sometimes orchestrates the actions that takes place.

Pippin, played by Luke Ensign, is an idealist trying to find himself amid the pleasures of the court, the pandemonium of battle and becoming a common laborer on the estate of a rich widow.

“Pippin starts out not knowing what he wants to do with his life,” Ensign said. “He’s been a great character, extreme in everything.”

Through his travels, Pippin interacts with his father, Charlemagne (King Charles), his (evil) stepmother, Fastrada and her dim-witted son, Lewis.

Charles and Lewis plan to go into battle and Pippin begs to be taken along to prove himself. Charles reluctantly agrees and proceeds to explain a battle plan to his men. However, the charade of war does not appeal to Pippin and he flees into the countryside.

Through his travels in the country, he stops at the estate of his exiled grandmother Berthe, played by Eden Jackson.

“I teach him about finding the simple joys in life which leads him to have a romantic experience,” Jackson said.

In a search for his purpose, the Leading Player tells Pippin that perhaps he should fight tyranny. Pippin plans a revolution and Fastrada is delighted to hear that perhaps Charles and Pippin will both perish so her beloved Lewis can become king.

“Fastrata is very fond of her son, Lewis, but not very fond of Pippin,” said Sarah Ramsey, who plays the stepmother.

Pippin is ultimately left alone on stage. He is surrounded by the Leading Player and troupe members who suggest that Pippin complete the most perfect act ever: The Ultimate Finale. He is told to jump into a box of fire and “become one with the flame.” Having experimented with every possible path to fulfillment, Pippin realizes what may be the most fulfilling road of all.

“I directed this show about 30 years ago in Scobey, Mont.,” director Michael Stevenson said. “It has been great watching these students discover the fun and nuances of this script. It is a busy show, with students not only acting, but singing and dancing and moving sets and providing light effects, you name it.”

Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz and the book by Roger O. Hirson.

The music, written by Stephen Schwartz of “Godspell” and “Wicked” fame, is quintessential 1970s.

Selections in the score include “Magic to Do,” “Corner of the Sky,” “Morning Glow” and “Glory.”

The DHS student cast members include: Ensign as Pippin; Chris Prchal as his father, Charlemagne; Ramsey as Fastrada, David Fehr as Pippin’s brother, Lewis, and Eden Jackson as his Grandmother, Berthe.

New comers to the department include Makayla Hardcastle as the Widow and Josh Jahner as her son. Elizabeth Pavlicek is the Omni-present Leading Player.

The company of actors is made of Rachel Andrus, Gillian Biscomb, Vivian Robbins, Victoria Ryan, Holly Rhodes, Annabelle McGuire, Kathleen Bachman, Brooke Anton, Helena Montoya, Michelle Schuh and Cheska De Castro, CJ Kostelecky, Emily Keller and Makenzie Theurer.

Pre-sale of tickets will be available by calling DHS between 12:30-3:30 p.m. starting Monday. Pre-sale ticket entitles the bearer to priority seating from 6:15-6:45 p.m. General admission tickets will be seated after 6:45 p.m. There is no reserved seating.

A limited number of pre-sale/priority tickets will be sold each night. Tickets are $8 for adults; $7 for high school students and senior citizens; and $6 for junior high and younger.

To order pre-sale tickets or for questions, call 701-456-0030.

“Pippin” is produced through arrangements with Music Theatre International of New York, N.Y.