The Magic in Pippin
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The Lead Player of Pippin is very much like a circus
ringmaster. The part was played by Marcus Beckett. He was
taught to perform an appearing cane effect using a
two-handed catch technique developed by Fred Goode. The
cane (or wand, in this case) appears in the open hand
The opening musical number of Pippin has lots of
action, acrobatics, juggling, unicycles and magic. The
young man on the left, Damien Ochere playing the part of
Lewis in the show, is performing a color changing
streamer effect, taught to him by Qua-Fiki.
Still part of the opening number, Byron Freeman,
the actor who later plays King Charlemagne, performs an
open handed version of Astro-Sphere as taught to him by
Fred Goode, based on Qua-Fiki's special adaptation of the
rigging. In the background, the vanishing box illusion is
being brought forward.
A young lady, Haneefah James, is placed into a
metal frame box, which is covered with a cloth and
brought to the front of the stage. Suddenly the box
vanishes, lady and all. The illusion was created just for
this show by Fred Goode. The operating assistants to the
left and right of the box are Ramel Coleman and Haneef
James. Playing the part of the illusionist in front of
the box is Quamir Patton.
This is not a Wiz Kid idea, but very clever
none-the-less. The stilt-walker (name needed) is walking
on home-made stilts made from plastic crates strapped to
her feet. The secret is given away when she gets down on
one "knee." On the left is Ryan Elie, playing
the role of Pippin.
Wiz Kid Qua-Fiki rode across the stage at various
times during the production. In this scene, he used his
Giraffe unicycle to deliver a map to King Charlemagne,
and now he rides back the other way. The only way we
could capture action shots like this was by using a high
quality video camera and then "snipping" out
one frame for a photo. On the right, Qua-Fiki is followed
by Timar Baldwin on a smaller unicycle, as the two of
them ride rings around the stilt walker.
The big illusion of the show is referred to as
the "Grand Finale" in the script, by which they
mean Pippin's death in flames. To give Pippin a
demonstration of what to expect, the actors roll on a
platform and a curtain, along with some steps used to
mount the platform.
Taking part in the demonstration is Haneef James,
who slowly and dramatically steps up onto the platform.
Slowly and dramatically, the curtain is raised up
high over the "victim's" head.
The Leading Player, Marcus Beckett, ignites the
flame, as the rest of the cast gathers around in
appreciation of the "sacrifice."
A flash of fire dwindles down to a spark still
floating in the air as the curtain drops to show that the
"victim" has been consumed in the flames.
Just in case Pippin (or the audience) thinks that
the "victim" merely dropped down into the
platform to escape the flames, the Leader has the
assistants tilt the platform over and everyone can see
that it is empty.
The Leader points and sings "Ta-dah!"
and the victim, Haneef James, reappears out in the
audience on the left steps above the stage (inset).
Pippin (Ryan Elie beneath inset) declares, "That's a
trick!" but the Leader assures him that when Pippin
does it, it will be "for real." Pippin is left
to decide whether he will choose the extraordinary
flaming end to his life, or go out in the ordinary way,
by growing old, surrounded by his family and loved ones.
The entire cast was required to make that magical
illusion "Grand Finale" real to the audience,
and all played their parts very well and with conviction.
The illusion itself was designed by Fred Goode, produced
by the Master Carpenter and Set Designer, Daniel Friday,
and staged by Director James Lemon and Fred Goode.