May River Theatre Co. has fun with 'Pippin'

Special to The Bluffton PacketOctober 24, 2011 

  • • WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Nov. 4, 5, 11, 12; and 3 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 6, 13

    • WHERE: Bluffton Town Hall’s Ulmer Auditorium, corner of Pritchard and Bridge streets, Bluffton

    • COST: $20

    • DETAILS: 843-815-5581, www.mayrivertheatre.com

When Jodie and Ed Dupuis were deciding on a fall musical for May River Theatre Co., they wanted something for everyone. They also wanted something familiar, so they reached back into Jodie Dupuis' past and selected "Pippin."

"I like the music. I like the silliness in it, and it's just a fun musical," Jodie Dupuis said.

Jodie Dupuis, who has staged many musicals with May River Theatre Co., choreographed the Tony-nominated show about 30 years ago at the old Hilton Head Playhouse on Dunnagans Alley. Her son, David Dupuis, played the precocious young boy named Lewis.

Today, David Dupuis is a successful special effects/makeup artist in Los Angeles, while his parents continue their labor of love with the May River theater group. The couple co-founded the company in Bluffton 10 years ago.

"Pippin," is the third production of the milestone season and will be performed nine times between Friday and Nov. 13. Jodie Dupuis will direct and choreograph.

The cast includes eight actors who all have performed with May River before, and an ensemble.

Pete Zeleznik heads the group as Leading Player, the satanic magician figure who tells the story. Chad Hsu stars as Pippin. Others members are Michael Weaver as Charlemagne, Donna Capps as Fastrada, Kelley Alcorn as Catherine, Barbara Clark as Berthe, Alec Bishop as Lewis and Cody Smiley as Theo.

"Pippin" opened on Broadway in 1972 to critical acclaim, leading to 11 Tony Award nominations. Bob Fosse won awards for best direction of a musical and best choreography. Ben Vereen was recognized as best actor in a musical for his portrayal of Leading Player.

Set in the eighth century, the musical tells the story Pippin, the young son of the emperor Charlemagne who is searching to discover true happiness and fulfillment. Over the years, the unconventional musical has become a staple on high school and college stages.

"It's a fun story. . . at least for most of it, before it gets very dark at the end," Zeleznik said. "It gives everybody a chance to express themselves.

"Pippin" is Zeleznik's eighth show with the theater group. The Hilton Head Island resident played Amos Hart in the spring production of "Chicago." Formerly from Ontario, Canada, Zeleznik also starred as Psuedolus in last season's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

This will be Hsu's fourth show at May River, and his biggest role as Pippin. The Savannah resident also played Simon Able in last season's "Forum."

Theatergoers will recognize Hilton Head resident Weaver, who has performed in dozens of shows throughout the years. In the spring, Weaver played four different characters in the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina production of "Hairspray."

Clark and Alcorn are coming off summer performances of "Nunset Boulevard" with May River Theatre Co. Clark, a Hilton Head resident, played Mother Superior, and has been performing since 1978. Alcorn, of Beaufort, has been in seven shows with the theater group.

Capps, a newcomer to Bluffton, was in the theater group's production of "Chicago." This will be her second show at the community theater and her first time in a leading role. Bishop has been in three previous May River productions.

Smiley, who is an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Bluffton Middle School, also was the only child in May River's "Sandbar Serenade," earlier this year.

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