When I used to think of Pippin, I always thought of Ben Vereen, Fosse, and all these great songs that were fun, engaging but overall presentational. After reading the script, however, I saw the music and the character of Pippin very differently. Instead of a young man bouncing from experience to experience, as I expected, I found a man who is so desperate to achieve something “more” that he is nearly consumed by it. I found a real character who keeps trying new ways to achieve “success” and running head-first into a brick wall.
This process is really fascinating for me because, as I explore Pippin through memorization, staging, and choreography, I’m finding that Pippin is teaching me a thing or two about Shaun. One of Pippin’s biggest challenges is his inability to savor a particular moment. His focus on achieving an “amazing future” blocks him from the reality of his present until it’s too late and the moment has passed him by.
When juggling performances, rehearsals, part-time jobs, a relationship, a budget, laundry, etc…it can be really easy to miss a moment in lieu of trying to get it all done. Acting teachers talk about the concept of using personal experiences to inform your performance. But I’m finding that as I think along these lines, the lessons Pippin learns are informing my day-to-day experiences as well.
Additionally, the chemistry between every member of this cast is just astonishing. Everyone is so present and is able to give so much in each scene, which makes slipping into this role and this world so wonderful. Pippin is trying to find the answers to questions that we all have about our lives, which are, “Does my life have meaning? What is that meaning? How do I find it?” Everyone he meets has a different answer and everyone I’m working with gives so much to fuel his journey. There is an energy that’s building from rehearsal to rehearsal and it just keeps getting stronger and brighter. I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.
-- Shaun Nathan Baer, originally from Oak Park, IL, returned to Chicago in 2008 after performing in Minnesota for several years. Member and co-founder of Catalyst Cabaret and dedicated Star Trek fanatic for twenty-four years.