Gibbons Drama Artistic Director Kevin Ferguson was already thinking about this year’s production of Pippin last summer, a month before school officially opened. That’s when he performed his annual ritual of buying a small notebook to jot down musings about this year’s shows and what he will add to them.
“As the program grows, so does our artistic ambition,” he said.
To be sure, bringing that ambition to life takes lots of time and energy. Ferguson likens the process of going from auditions to opening night, and the countless rehearsals in between, for Pippin, as a transformative experience for the 43 students involved in the production. “They literally go from being a bunch of strangers to becoming a functioning family,” Ferguson said, noting that “bonds are formed that remain with them for the rest of their lives.”
“This is a show about magic" Drama Artistic Director Kevin Ferguson said, adding that he wants the audience to leave Pippin asking, ‘what does it mean to have magic in your life?’”
“Actors must depend on their castmates if the show is to exist at all, so the cast is unified by common trust and a love for the show being created,” said Benjamin Colon-Emeric ’18.
During their time together on stage and off, Ferguson said, students also become more open to risk, develop more tolerance, and learn to be leaders. They also gain insights about careers in the technical and performing arts fields.
Working through his vision for Pippin, Ferguson knew the setting for the recent Broadway revival of the play was a circus, prompting him to incorporate a bit of spectacle in the Gibbons production. Enter the much talked- and tweeted-about aerial sequences. “This is a show about magic,” Ferguson said, adding that he wants the audience to leave Pippin asking, ‘what does it mean to have magic in your life?’”
As for his students, he added, “I hope students learn what it means to be part of something larger than themselves, part of building an ensemble and supporting one another...”
Colon-Emeric '18 agreed and added: “Participating in Gibbons Drama has, over these past four years, taught me how much a community can impact my experiences; performing is fun, but the real reason I do the shows is because I get to be part of a wonderful group of people…”