Dos Pueblos production goes in an innovative direction
After a year without theater, Dos Pueblos High School students are revving up for their curtain call, preparing for a production of the Broadway musical “Pippin” unlike any ever seen before.
It’s been a theater season that required a lot of pivoting on the part of Theater Director Clark Sayre. Between Zoom practices and limitations on the size of the cast, preparing for a show during COVID-19 is unlike anything Mr. Sayre has done in his 40 years as a theater director and teacher.
But with some brainstorming and a talented tech crew, Mr. Sayre and Tech Director Noel Greer developed a unique way of presenting the show that maintains COVID-19 protocols while still providing a live theater experience.
At 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the Dos Pueblos Theatre Company will present a drive-in style performance of “Pippin,” where audience members can tune into the radio and watch the production broadcast on the theater’s wall in the school’s student parking lot.
The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1972, follows the story of Pippin, the first son of Holy Roman Empire leader Charlemagne, as he searches to find the true meaning of his life.
The show will feature both pre-filmed and live scenes, creating a unique hybrid show that evenly blends live elements with film.
In the school’s parking lot, the tech crew built a small stage, where a few students with solos will perform. Audience members will also see live scenes projected from an outdoor TV studio set up, where attendees will see the scenes performed live and projected on the wall.
In the days leading up to the show’s opening, Mr. Sayre reflected on the process of creating this year’s show, recalling the weeks of practicing, recording and filming with his cohort of 13 student actors.
“We wanted to do something that was cutting edge and out there,” Mr. Sayre told the News-Press. “I liked teaching the kids that in a pandemic or any situation, you’re going to have to think way outside of the box if you’re going to try and create something,g because it doesn’t live anywhere within the box.”
He added, “I think it’s just been one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done because of having to do it under these crazy circumstances. We’ve just had a lot of fun filming.”
For sophomore Alison Togami, a member of the show’s tech crew, this year’s show is unlike any other show she’s been a part of during her years in theater.
Alison said she got involved in theater in first grade, but developed an interest for the tech side when she was in seventh grade.
During the show, Alison is in charge of controlling the live broadcasting system and overseeing the filming of the live elements of the production. She said the tech team will be busy during the show, as members are in charge of manning the live streamed broadcast for people watching at home, as well as manning the broadcast for people watching at the drive-in.
Alison said she is hoping the message of the show will resonate with the audience.
“I really just hope that (the audience) gets the overall message of the show that life has been kind of rocky over the past two months and year, but life continues and we face challenges (and) overcome them,” Alison told the News-Press.
“And also I hope that (the audience) takes in this one-of-a-kind of unique experience that this show is really providing. I think it’s going to look really different and feel really different.”