COPA replaces “Parade” with “Pippin”

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Photo by Jared Murphy

Written By Jordyn Hronec, Editor-Elect

The 2019-2020 Pittsburgh Playhouse season was altered once more following weeks of student advocacy at the end of the Fall 2019 semester.

 

Over the semester break, a statement was released by Point Park announcing that the show “Parade,” which was scheduled to be performed in the spring, was being replaced by another musical production, “Pippin.”

 

On Dec. 18, a statement was released directly from the President of the university, Paul Hennigan.

 

“The 2013 Broadway revival brought renewed luster to this popular work, and we believe it will both challenge our students and delight our audiences,” Hennigan wrote in regards to the show “Pippin.”

 

The change follows several town hall-style meetings hosted by the dean of the Conservatory of Performing Arts, Steven Breese last semester. The first meeting was held in regards to the show “Adding Machine: A Musical,” which was cancelled due to mishandling of the show’s content by its creative team and student concern. A town hall meeting with President Hennigan was also held, where he promised students that changes would be made in order to correct a lack of diversity and inclusivity, specifically within the conservatory. The last two town hall meetings were held in order to discuss the musical “Parade.”

 

“Parade” tells the story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory owner who is wrongfully accused of rape and murder and who is ultimately lynched because of this. At the town hall meetings to discuss the show, it was also revealed that it contains imagery such as Confederate flags and KKK hoods. While Breese assured students that should the show go on, proper care would be taken so that the material could be presented artistically and sensitively, students were concerned that the university was not yet equipped to do either the show, or its participants justice.

 

At the meetings, Breese made it clear that a decision regarding “Parade” would not be made on the spot.

 

“As we continue our dialogue and work together to enhance the culture at Point Park in a way that will lead to a more inclusive community, we have made the decision to postpone indefinitely our production of the show ‘Parade,’ which was scheduled for April,” President Hennigan wrote in his statement.

 

President Hennigan also wrote: “Through my involvement in these discussions with the Point Park community, it is clear to me that our priority as a university must be our students, and we cannot allow a production to move forward that could overshadow our educational and developmental mission. We also would not be serving the best interests of our loyal patrons or the show “Parade,” a widely acclaimed and important musical that generates robust conversation about social awareness and societal change.”

 

The show “Parade,” was slated to be directed by Rob Ashford, a Tony award-winning Point Park alumnus. “Pippin” will be directed by Stephen Sposito, who was slated to be the assistant director to Ashford.

 

A song from the show “Pippin” was performed by the cast of “Adding Machine: A Musical” at a cabaret style show that was put on the week before the semester break in the Highmark theater, where “Adding Machine” had been set to take place. The show was titled “Reclaiming.” In an effort to reclaim their performance space, each member of the cast performed solo and group numbers that expressed what they considered “reclaiming” to mean. The show also included numbers from shows such as “Frozen,” “Chicago,” and “Newsies.” The cast performed the song “Morning Glow,” from “Pippin,” at the conclusion of the show.

 

“Pippin” tells the story of a young prince and his search for true happiness. Auditions and callbacks for the show are scheduled for this week. The show is set to be performed in the Playhouse’s PNC theater from Mar.13 to 22.