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Daily interviews with a local focus airing at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Northland Morning.

Bringing Hollywood musical ideas to the live stage: Pippin at UMD Theatre

Katie Kampfhenkel
Laura Carlson (role: “Leading Player”) & Nick Wright (role: “Pippin”)

The nearly century-old relationship between live musical theater and Hollywood movie musicals is often one involving change and adaptation. Hollywood would often drop a song or two from the stage version and add new ones. Sometimes the script is fundamentally altered. The multiple points-of-view that the camera lens allows can expand the way the audience visually connects with the story. But what of the path that moves the other way? What opportunities are there if creative ideas from the classical Hollywood musical films are brought to the live stage?

We speak with Dennis F. Johnson, the director of the UMD Department of Theatre production of Pippin, a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Roger O. Hirson that originally appeared on Broadway in 1972. Johnson and his creative team "harkened back to those early movie musicals and thought, 'What if we did this like MGM would have in the Forties or Fifties?'"

Pippin opens at the Marshall Performing Arts Center at UMD on April 14, with a total of eight performances through April 24.

Chris Harwood is The North 1033’s Production Director and (acting) Program Director, a morning/daytime host, and the host of Soul Village. He is also a musician, a music historian, an audio engineer, and an avid record collector.
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