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East answers life’s deep questions, finds ‘corner of sky’ with ‘Pippin’

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hen junior Anna Guse accepted the role of leading player in Columbus East’s upcoming production of “Pippin,” she underestimated how challenging her part would be.

“We are all so different from our characters,” Guse said. “My character is a chameleon who is dedicated to making the best show she can. She is extremely manipulative and uses that to control Pippin.”

The show is about seeking one’s purpose, Guse said. And there are twists and turns in the story that go much deeper than people think.

Guse and her fellow cast members have much “Magic To Do” this weekend when they present the play at the Columbus East High School auditorium, 230 South Marr Road.

The production is “deceptively simple,” and was purposely picked to increase the students’ theatrical knowledge, from acting to set design, said Janelle Runge, Columbus East High School theater director. The intent was to allow each student the opportunity to play more than one part to strengthen their ability.

Based on medieval characters, the play poses the age-old question, “How will I spend the rest of my life?” Runge said.

The son of the violent, arrogant King Charles I, Pippin is torn between impressing his father and pursuing his own happiness. It is only when Pippin is faced with the reality that all actions have consequences that he realizes happiness is in simplicity.

If you think a play based on the Dark Ages is passé, think again.

“We kept the play nebulous in the time period it takes place,” Runge said. “This is a chess match with winners and losers. The characters and their stories bring the complexity to the play.”

As the students have welcomed the challenge of playing multiple characters, Runge said her greatest challenge as director has been helping them to do so.

Discovering and adopting parts of a character that go against your own personality is difficult, said sophomore Sarah Harpring, who plays Pippin’s conniving, manipulative stepmother Fastrada.

“There’s a little bit of everyone in the show,” Harpring said. “That side you don’t want to admit is there.”

Written by famed playwright Stephen Schwartz, the production features the songs “Corner of the Sky,” “Magic To Do” and “War Is A Science.”

Agreeing it is “dark for a musical,” Luke Major, who plays Pippin, said the show definitely puts a spotlight on human imperfection.

“Pippin is searching for what he wants to do with his life,” Major said. “And he is very naive.”

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