Asheville – I had the absolute pleasure of being at the opening night of Pippin, and Asheville Community Theatre went all out to celebrate both the show and the start of their 2023–24 Mainstage Season.
From the red carpet to the food, drinks, and entertainment in the lobby, I felt like they were celebrating everyone in the audience as well.
Of course, the pre-show festivities were just an appetizer. Pippin was a 12-course meal for our senses.
It’s a musical I had never seen before, and I was not expecting the overwhelming magical mayhem that came from every part of the theater during the opening number.
We were delighted by the wondrous and impressive “circus skills” of the players. Aeralists on a hoop and silks, juggling, stilts, acrobatics, and even a whipmaster It was excess in the best possible way.
We were whirled into chaos by Coco Palmer Dolce’s choreography. Bob Fosse was the choreographer for the original show, so it was fitting that his style was the inspiration for many of the dances in this production. Still, they were inventive and often quite unexpected.
We were delighted by Jillian Summers’ set and Ida Bostian’s costumes. The feelings they evoked were those of weird whimsy and sinister sumptuousness. Gorgeous and glam, definitely, but also with an undertone of a murky world where one may not entirely feel safe. All in all, a delicious dichotomy.
We were mesmerized by Nicki LaRue’s makeup designs. They had a very Asheville approach to clown makeup. Sparkling glitter stylized the players in a way that took an already over-the-top look to the next level.
Ushering us through it all was Robert Arleigh White’s brilliant direction.
I list all those people who were “in charge” of their respective roles, but this production was also quite a collaborative effort.
This phenomenal group of actors had their “jazz hands” in almost every aspect of this fantastical, darkly whimsical show.
From the moment that Christine Aiken and Asheville Aerial Arts invited them to play around and choose a craft they’d like to learn, they catapulted their hearts, souls, and an immeasurable amount of trust into the process.
I think it’s important to mention that Bob White and ACT have a “we want your loud laughter and vocal emotions” section in their curtain speech. For those of you who emote like I do, they want you in their audience.
All in all, it was an unforgettable night of wildly wonderful entertainment that was so much more than “just a musical.”
Asheville Community Theatre’s production of Pippin has performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through October 8th.
Hamlet: The Requiem is Fiercely Engaging
Tryon, NC’s Shakespeare & Friends has skillfully reimagined one of the Bard’s most iconic works with Hamlet: The Requiem.
The result is a show that is fully immersive, riveting, visceral, engaging, visually stunning, and impressively executed.
It was a modern Hamlet for the senses.
The theater-in-the-round experience fascinated and enchanted me from beginning to end.
Writer/director Anthony Abraira also constructed a sound design that fueled our reactions to the players. Not with music, swelling, or staccato to tell the audience how to feel, but with sounds.
Constant, sometimes barely perceptible sounds. They served as an auditory underscore to this fiercely engaging show.
The script was not only edited for length but also spliced and rearranged. Providing tighter pacing and heightened drama.
There were sections where multiple scenes were almost overlaid, and for me, it made the story more clear and less cluttered.
While theater-in-the-round can seem awkward or non-inclusive for some sections of the audience, director Abraira and the remarkable cast executed natural and interesting blocking that played to every person in attendance.
If you are like me and enjoy truly and completely experiencing a performance, “get thee” to Hamlet: The Requiem.
The final performances will be at Tryon Depot Room in Tryon, NC, from Thursday, September 21st, to Sunday, September 24th, with all shows starting at 8:00 p.m.