The Curtain Falls on Pippin


Grace Wang

Pippin, played by CHS senior John Reed, rallying a crowd of protesters while plotting to overthrow his father.

As the final act of Community Ensemble Theater’s (CET) Pippin drew to a close, Evers Baskey, Assistant CET Tech Director, took a deep breath. During Pippin’s finale, set pieces are quickly disassembled, lights are switched and relocated and the entire theater is de-rigged before the audience’s eyes.

“There are a lot of things happening and a lot of ways that it could all go wrong,” Baskey said. “Once that’s done, it just [feels] great.”

After months of rehearsals, the relief of successfully coordinating all these moving pieces was emotional for Baskey. This was the first time CET incorporated its actors into the running crew, which proved to be a complicated and time-intensive operation.

“Early on, it was a lot to coordinate,” Baskey said. “But it was relieving knowing that whatever happens happens, and I could just enjoy the show.”

Pippin’s reputation as a “show-within-a-show” is quite literal. The story is told by the leading player, and their band of players (ensemble cast members), who create an intricate world for Pippin and the audience. As the show goes on, the players assemble and take down sets, organize props and play many different characters. As an ensemble cast member, Ebie Lamb, CHS sophomore, enjoyed being in a show that uses its ensemble in a unique way.

“There’s a person that’s a head soldier, and then an evil soldier and then a pig,” Lamb said. “[We] learn all the dances and learn all the songs. It’s kind of like having a family. In the changing rooms when we come off of our cues we all high five each other and give each other compliments. That is just what you get in [an] ensemble.”

Maia Genisio, another ensemble cast member and CHS freshman, also enjoyed that Pippin featured the ensemble more prominently than in other shows.

“[I] liked the ensemble experience better in this show,” Genisio said. “I’m going to use a word from the show, and say that it feels very fulfilling.”

Every cast member plays a role in creating the intricate world of the performance. Lila Fetter, a CHS sophomore who plays Catherine, found it difficult to adjust to running crew as an actor, and found themselves missing cues during tech week. However, as Fetter grew comfortable with their role, they were excited to get in on the action.

“I’ve never had to do any sort of crew before and I now have a lot more respect for the people who do,” Fetter said. “They put in arguably more work than the cast and get a fraction of the recognition. It seems easy, but it’s a lot to remember.”

Since the pandemic’s inception, CET has opted to have actors masked during their shows. However, although audience members remain masked (as do the crew backstage), Pippin was CET’s (and the district’s) first pandemic-era show performed unmasked in front of a live audience. Lamb joined CET her freshman year, and performed She Kills Monsters (SKM) last year while masked. While SKM hosted a live audience, the anticipation of returning to more normal performances was “an emotional whirlwind,” for Lamb and the rest of the cast.

“We saw [the audience’s] faces and thought ‘oh my gosh, we’re actually doing this again,’” Lamb said. “We have sound, music, dancing and a live audience. It was so exciting.”

For Ian Taylor, a CHS senior who plays Pippin’s half-brother, Lewis, it felt just like performing pre-pandemic theater again.

“It felt surprisingly normal to take off my mask,” Taylor said. “You would think that after all this time you would be used to wearing [a mask], but once I took it off, I forgot all about it.”

Taylor also heard a rumor that he would get to keep the pants his character wears once the show ends.

“I’m so stoked about it,” Taylor said.

As the curtain falls on CET’s Pippin, cast members eagerly await “Just Desserts,” a production involving student playwrights, student directors and cast members. They also look forward to getting some rest; as Lamb remarks, no one has slept more than six hours a night since the beginning of tech week.

Learn more about upcoming CET performances here.