Broadway in the Park returns to Arts Festival with Pippin

The cast of the musical "Pippin" does a dress rehearsal on Monday prior to the Broadway in the Park production Wednesday through Friday as part of the Summer Arts Festival.

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The cast of the musical "Pippin" does a dress rehearsal on Monday prior to the Broadway in the Park production Wednesday through Friday as part of the Summer Arts Festival.

A show that has never been performed at the Veterans Park Amphitheater about a young prince trying to find himself will mark the return of Broadway in the Park to the Springfield Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival for the first time in three years.

The Tony Award-winning musical “Pippin” will be performed by a local cast at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 15 through Friday, June 17 in the park. Admission is free and donations to keep the series going will be accepted.

“Pippin” is the first chance for such a show since 2019. Although only designed for a cast of 12, show director and SAC executive director Tim Rowe bumped the cast up to 35 to bring the epic feeling audiences attending festival show are used to, with performers as young as 12 and up from all over the Miami Valley.

Although set around 700 A.D., the story of the young man, Pippin, wanting to do extraordinary things but finding being a king involves tough decisions such as dealing with his armies and he doesn’t like war, budget cuts and other things unpopular with his people make it tough.

“Although it’s set back then, it calls back to what’s going on in the present day,” said Rowe. “He finds out maybe being ordinary is okay.”

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The show’s set resembles a closed theater with an acting troupe telling the story of Pippin as a framing device. Rowe said this will be a fresh show and the audience may be familiar with the popular songs “Magic to Do” and “Corner of the Sky”.

Rowe recalls singing the songs as a student at South High School when the show was new, and they appeal to Austin Litteral, performing in his first show in the park and his first since he was in high school.

The Tecumseh High English teacher is finding it an exciting new experience playing King Charlemagne and how different the show is to some of the more common Broadway musicals.

“I like that all the songs are different and geared toward different mediums,” he said.

Although the weather will be hot during the show, Litteral is more concerned about his singing and hitting marks on the stage and seeing some of his students and others in the audience. It has also lit a different sort of heat.

“I’d forgotten how much I missed this, it’s set a fire in my soul to do more,” he said.

Rowe, who is marking his 50th anniversary of being involved in Arts Festival productions, is working with fellow SAC employees Krissy Brown and Ian Williams, who plays Pippin.

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“Putting a show together is a lot like putting an event together, we enjoy both. It’s great to have so many young people discovering shows like this,” he said.

Other Summer Arts Festival shows this week include Grammy-winning quartet All-4-One, which performs the smash hits “I Swear” and “I Can Love You Like That” and others at 8 p.m. Saturday, and Shining Star: The Tribute to Earth, Wind, and Fire at 8 p.m. Sunday.


HOW TO GO

What: Broadway in the Park – “Pippin”

Where: Veterans Park, Springfield

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, Thursday, June 16 and Friday, June 17

Admission: Free; donations accepted

More info: www.springfieldartscouncil.org

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