RIC’s production of 'PIPPIN' selected for American College Theatre Festival

(Photo: Gene St. Pierre '77)

(Photo: Gene St. Pierre '77)
Once upon a time, a young prince named Pippin, son of King Charlemagne the Great, set out to discover the secret of happiness and fulfillment – in a show-stopping Broadway musical production that opened in 1972 and ran for 1,944 performances.

Last April, Rhode Island College’s Theatre Department staged an updated version of the award winning show, set on a Las Vegas-style stage with elaborate costumes and choreography, that was recently invited by the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) to be performed at its regional festival on Jan. 26, 2011, at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts.

Joe NiCastro performs in the RIC Theatre production of 'Pippin.'
A gala performance of "PIPPIN" will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011, at 8 p.m., in RIC’s Roberts Hall Auditorium, with proceeds from the performance to help finance the trip to Fitchburg for more than 50 students, faculty and staff in the show.

There are 27 cast members in "PIPPIN," directed by Wilson and choreographed by Angelica Vessella, RIC’s dance director. RIC alum Anthony Torelli is musical director. Alan Pickart, lighting director, Chris Abernathy, technical director, and costume designer Charlotte Burgess, will also attend the festival.

"PIPPIN" is the only Rhode Island theatre production selected from those submitted by colleges in the state.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet theater professionals and get feedback from theatre adjudicators that often include famous actors and directors,” said Bill Wilson, director of musical theatre at RIC.

The weeklong festival includes classes and workshops, and two productions each day from what Wilson describes as “the finest educational theatre” in New England and New York.

Wilson said that "PIPPIN" was entered into the 2010 KCACTF competition early last year, and was attended by two respondents of the KCACTF when the college presented the show last April. Respondents attend productions from January to December at colleges and universities in the six New England States plus New York.

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the festival is a national theater program involving more than 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationally, serving as a catalyst to improve the quality of college theater in the United States.

The festival has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by festival respondents.

At the state, regional, and national festivals, participants celebrate the creative process, observe one another's work, and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing and design.

Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition.

Naysh Fox, left, has the title role in 'Pippin.'
"PIPPIN" is RIC’s second entry into the KCACTF, the first was in 1976 for "The Robber Bridegroom." RIC was invited to participate in the festival both times.

Tickets for the "PIPPIN" gala are $50 per person for reserved seating and cast reception immediately following the performance, or $25 per person for general admission.

For tickets, or for more information, call the RIC Box Office at (401) 456-8144 or order tickets online at www.ric.edu/pfa/orderinfo.php.