31 May 2024

Arcadians Theatre Group celebrates 60 years with magical Pippin production in Corrimal

| Kellie O'Brien
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Arcadians Theatre Group Corrimal

Arcadians Theatre Group cast for the upcoming production of Pippin. Photos: Supplied.

Marking 60 years of entertaining Illawarra audiences, Arcadians Theatre Group will prove what a little magic can do when it stages the musical Pippin in Corrimal during June.

Featuring an unforgettable score from four-time Grammy winner and three-time Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz, Pippin tells the story of one young man’s journey to be extraordinary.

Although Pippin was originally staged in 1972, the Arcadians will perform the revival version which won four Tony Awards in 2013 and introduced circus choreography and acrobatics to the production.

Glenn McMahon will make his directional debut with the Arcadians, but brings a wealth of experience having directed Sound of Music; Bye, Bye, Birdie; and Grease since 1985.

Glenn also played the leading role in Canterbury Theatre Guild’s production of Pippin.

“I was in the show back in 1987, which was the original version,” he said.

“It has been such a gratifying experience to tackle this story from the other side of the stage and I am so excited for audiences to see our fresh take on this classic show.

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“The ending of the first act and the ending of the second act are both very moving.”

Pippin uses the premise of a performance troupe re-enacting the story of two historical figures of the early Middle Ages, Pippin and Charlemagne.

The troupe, which often breaks the fourth wall (an invisible, imaginary barrier separating actors from the audience), depicts the journey of the young prince Pippin as he seeks the secret to true happiness and fulfilment.

However, Glenn admitted the cast members weren’t acrobats or circus performers.

“We’ve had to tone it down to a level that suits our production,” he said.

“In our particular production, we’re using the premise they’re a rag bag, sort of mismatched team of ex-circus performers who’ve been cobbled together by the leading player to do this particular production, so it works out for us.”

Pippin musical Corrimal

The Arcadians Theatre Group cast of Pippin offers something a little different.

He said he was proud of how the small cast had worked extra hard to maintain intensity while singing throughout the entire show.

Show producer and Arcadians secretary Kerrie Hartin said the skill level of the cast varied, from emerging talent to those with more experience either through Arcadians’ junior program, its previous productions, or other Illawarra theatre groups.

She said among them was Emerson Garcia who played Pippin.

“Our Pippin did a national tour playing Gavroche in Les Mis when he was younger,” Kerrie said.

“He played Gavroche in a local production, and then auditioned for the national tour. He did Sydney, Melbourne and Perth as Gavroche.”

She said the actor who played the leading player was also “amazing”.

“He just walked into the audition and blew us away,” she said.

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“He was just incredible and so passionate about the show, which is why he and Glenn are getting on so well, because they’re just on the same wavelength.”

Kerrie said this year marked the 60th anniversary of the Arcadians Theatre Group entertaining the Illawarra with theatrical productions. The group also has a children’s theatre department.

“It’s been a great training ground for kids to come through, combined with what they now are lucky enough to do at school,” she said.

“We’ve also been at the Miner’s Lab Theatre, which we own, for 27 years now.”

Pippin follows the group’s recent string of successful productions, including Big Fish, Sweet Charity, and The Little Mermaid Junior.

Tickets are now available for Pippin, which will run for three weekends from 14-29 June at the Miner’s Lamp Theatre, 141 Princes Highway, Corrimal and is suitable for 12+ years.

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