Pippin brings performing arts students of all types to center stage



Juniors Ranna Shahbazi and Zach Lowenstein rehearse for Pippin. This year, the musical is utilizing specialized dancers and singers to supplement the production.

Jason Altshuler, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Shakespeare play, Progressions, the Winter Concert and more. Of the performances at the high school, most only showcase one group of students: actors, dancers, or musicians. Musical theater, on the other hand, presents an opportunity to exhibit many different talents.

The musical this year, Pippin, is bringing together performing artists from around the school, ultimately allowing participants to mingle and improve.

“In the past, we’ve had to find people who do the dances, sing and act,” junior and cast member Ranna Shahbazi said. “And that was really difficult, because you aren’t always going to have people that do all of those three the best. So, it was difficult to manage singing, while dancing and acting on top of all of that.”

The cast of Pippin rehearses for the musical. The show will premiere on Feb. 7, 2018.

According to director and dance teacher Christien Polos, he used to tweak the musicals to fit the cast he had.

“When I do shows at the high school, I can’t always bank on getting somebody that can sing and act and dance,” Polos said. “So I have to think about how would I modify it. I try to choreograph it so that everybody looks good doing what they’re doing.”

This year, there will be specialized dancers and singers in the production. While actors will still be dancing and singing, the members focusing on certain aspects will improve the musical as a whole.

Polos asked dancers in his Advanced Dance class last year if they would be in Pippin — something that, according to Polos, he has not done in eight or nine years. Four dancers agreed: seniors Mia Camhi and Karin Pan, junior Iris Brooke and sophomore Svea Delevett.

“I like their energy, I like their respect for working, I like their positive energy all the time, and they’re beautiful dancers; they’re just really lovely dancers,” Polos said. “So, who wouldn’t want that in your show?”

While normal cast members still dance, the advanced dancers are able to lead and fulfill more challenging parts. Camhi has found the musical to be an enjoyable experience thus far.

“I don’t know that many people, but people are really welcoming, and it’s a really fun group of people, and it’s been nice,” Camhi said.

According to Pan, she has enjoyed working with other students in the performing arts.

Director Christien Polos leads a rehearsal for Pippin. Last year, Polos asked dancers in his Advanced Dance class if they would participate in the production.

“It’s a good bonding experience, with the whole cast, and not just the theater kids,” Pan said. “It’s just like actors, singers, dancers, all together.”

Shahbazi said these advanced dancers are helpful in scenes with more sophisticated dancing.

“I think it’s a lot cleaner this year,” Shahbazi said. “A lot of the times, people really struggle with the dance. I do too, because we’re not really dancers. So now, those certain parts that are really difficult that need to sort of be acrobatic, we have people that can do them, and then the rest of us can be singing during that time.”

Furthermore, Polos plans to have singers from Camerata join the production to sing on stage in the background. According to Shahbazi, senior Noah Sesling, juniors Alexa Lane and Callie Rabinovitz and freshman Kevin Liao will fill this role. Normal cast members will still sing, but the support of dedicated singers is meant to allow normal cast members to put their main focus in acting and dancing.

“That means the dancers on stage don’t have to commit to that big sound, because they can sing it, but they don’t have to be belting their brains out,” Polos said.

Polos believes that this type of production helps the cast grow, improving the performance of the entire cast.

“There’s a drama group, and there’s a group that really is devoted to musical theater, and then my dancers,” Polos said. “All of us in these these groups are beginning to work with each other that never worked with each other before.”