Singers’ Theatre Workshop presents Pippin, the tale of a theatre troupe presenting a lampoon of the court of Charlemagne with his son Pippin as the central character. Propelled by the Leading Player this is a story of dreams, magic, and love. Pippin speaks to the everyman in us all looking for our season and our rhyme.

Max Wisnefski ‘24, who plays the role of Pippin, is majoring in data analytics and double minoring in computer science and philosophy, and is a man of many trades. In addition to his diverse and busy academic studies, he has been involved in Denison’s Singers’ Theatre Workshop and Chamber Choir Singers since his freshman year. Additionally, he works as a tutor with the Academic Resource Center, serves as a Portuguese teaching assistant, and is a member of the University Honor Committee. We sat down with Max to learn about his background in the arts, his experience with the various music ensembles at Denison, and his time with the Singers’ Theatre Workshop.

How did you get started in theatre, and with the production of Pippin specifically?

I’ve been doing theatre since 8th grade. It’s something I’ve become extremely passionate about over the past several years, and I’m really grateful for all of the performance opportunities I have at Denison. I knew going into college that I didn’t want to pursue theatre professionally, but I still wanted it to be part of my life, regardless of my major. I started doing Singers’ Theatre during my freshman year. Over the past two years I’ve really fallen in love with both Singers’ Theatre itself and the wonderful people in it, so it was sort of a given that I would audition for Pippin this semester.

What have you learned from playing Pippin? Can you describe the show?

Pippin is a really interesting show because it presents itself as a relatively shallow coming of age story, in which Pippin is trying to find something fulfilling to devote his life to, but it becomes increasingly more subversive as the plot progresses, especially towards the end of the second act. The show has a metanarrative about the actors who are playing the roles, which I think is a really interesting, and sometimes overlooked, aspect of the show.

I am very excited for next semester when Singers’ Theatre and the theatre department will be collaborating on The Threepenny Opera. I’m really looking forward to this, as I love musicals, and I sincerely hope that this, along with the very recent creation of the music theatre minor, leads to more collaboration in the future. Overall, my experience in Singers’ Theatre has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m really grateful to have been a part of it for the past two years.

Walk us through the process of putting this show together–how long does it take to prepare? What does a typical rehearsal look like?

Something about Singers’ Theatre that has always impressed me is our ability to consistently produce high quality work in a very short amount of time. Until we start approaching tech week, we only meet for rehearsals twice a week, and these rehearsals are each an hour and a half long. The early rehearsals are often spent learning music. From there, we devote a large chunk of the rehearsal process to blocking/choreographing the show. After that, we’re basically just running the show as many times as possible before opening night. After each run, we receive notes from our director, Kevin N. Wines, to incorporate into future runs.

What is the most challenging part of playing this lead character? The most fun part?

Pippin is definitely the most vocally challenging role I’ve ever played, which is both daunting and exciting. Kevin Wines has been extremely helpful throughout the process so far.

The most fun part of the process is honestly just being around the rest of the cast. One of the main things I enjoy about theatre and the performing arts in general is all of the wonderful people you get to meet. I’ve made a lot of really great friends in the shows I’ve done at Denison. I think the performing arts are a great way to build community and create lasting friendships with wonderful people. I really enjoy Singers’ Theatre, and I can’t wait for people to see the show! 

Performances of Pippin will take place on December 9 and 10, at 7 p.m. and December 11, at 2 p.m.

By Stephen Schwartz
Book by Roger Hirson and Bob Fosse
Directed by Kevin N. Wines

Book by Music & Lyrics by
Originally produced on the Broadway stage by Stuart Ostrow
Originally directed on the Broadway stage by Bob Fosse
2013 Broadway revival directed by Diane Paulus
Theo Ending Originally Conceived In 1998 by Mitch Sebastian

Is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).
All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

November 15, 2022