Iowa City Community Theatre will open its 64th season with its revival of Pippin, which the company last staged in the 1980s. This production will be filled with veterans of area stages and theaters, yet about half are making their Iowa City Community Theatre debut.
The story of Pippin is based on real characters in history, but they appear in a non-historical story. Pippin himself is played by actor Will Adams. Will and his fellow actors are excited to present what is truly an ensemble piece. In addition to “fun songs,” the cast is excited to bring their love of dance to this stage. The camaraderie of the cast shows itself on and off stage.
Actor Becky Machtel was excited when she saw Pippin in the Iowa City Community Theatre season. Ms. Machtel has performed in the show several times, each time taking on a new character. In her younger days, Ms. Machtel played the love interest, Catherine. As she has matured, she has found life experience adding much to the roles she has landed in this musical. Now she has reached an age where she can believably play Pippin’s grandmother, Bertha. While her character is supposed to be 66 years old, her character is, in fact, 66 years young. “Sixty-six is the new 40,” Ms. Bechtel joked.
Veteran theater maven Donna Bummer is costuming the show. Ms. Bummer worked in the New York theater scene for 16 years as a director/producer of a small theater. Subsequently, she spent nearly 20 years in the Los Angeles market before coming to Iowa City for a non-theatrical job. “Coming out to do theater, even costuming a show, is therapy for me. I get to venture into fantasy,” Ms. Bummer noted. She described Pippin as an existential journey of the good kind. She has always thrilled alongside Pippin as he seeks to find himself and how he fits into the big world around him. She noted that his search and her search for meaning in life have taken them both to places they had only imagined.
This production is directed by Josh Sazon, a face quite familiar in the local theatrical scene. Mr. Sazon has worked in almost every theater in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids metropolitan area. He is adept both on and off the stage. His two most recent directorial presentations included throngs of cast members, but Pippin features a more intimate troupe. Mr. Sazon is assisted in this effort by Wes Habley as musical director, Elizabeth Savelkoul as collaborative pianist, Taylor Anne Gomez as choreographer, Michael Blake as set designer, and many others.
Pippin opens September 20th at 7:30 in Exhibition Hall A on the Johnson County Fairgrounds, the Iowa City Community Theatre home for over 50 years. The run continues Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 and 2 p.m. respectively. The run of Pippin ends the following weekend, September 27-29, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through the box office (319-338-0443) or online at iowacitycommunitytheatre.com.