College of Fine Arts and Design

UCO's "Pippin" Pops in Updated Performance

pippinFeb. 19, 2010


The '70s-era Broadway musical "Pippin," re-created with a new song, dances and aerial acrobatics, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on March 4-6 and 2 p.m. on March 7 in Mitchell Hall Theater at the University of Central Oklahoma.

"It's fast, fluid, dazzling and tons of fun. You will see magic tricks, circus stunts, a little bit of everything," said Steven Smeltzer, UCO Music Theatre division instructor and "Pippin" director and choreographer.

Recommended only for mature audiences, "Pippin" is the story of a wily troupe of traveling players, who, in turn, tell the story of Prince Pippin, son of King Charlemagne. The young prince undertakes a quest to find his "Corner of the Sky," which is also the name of the song Pippin sings near the musical's beginning.

"Pippin searches in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power," Smeltzer said.

"It's a coming-of-age story. While we might think, 'who could have a better life than a prince?' Pippin doesn't see it that way. He is, like most of us, struggling to figure out what to do with his life," he said. "Luckily, he ends up choosing his own path and true calling."

To accompany many of the songs, dancers climb 8-feet-tall trapeze platforms and soar across the stage on red, silk ribbons. 

"Several of the dancers and I went to Perpetual Motion dance company in Oklahoma City, where they teach aerial work, to learn how to do this," Smeltzer said.

Smeltzer also said "Pippin" includes many forms of entertainment, including circus acts, ballet and jazz dances, musical comedy numbers, rock concert performances, magic show illusions and vaudeville routines.

 Stephen Schwartz, of the musical "Wicked," also wrote the music and lyrics for "Pippin." Recently, Schwartz composed an additional song for "Pippin" called "Back Home Again," which the Central cast will perform.

To update several other songs, Smeltzer worked with an arranger in Sweden. In addition, Smeltzer said, "Pippin" will end with a new finale that was written after the original Broadway show ended its five-year run. 

Before becoming a UCO instructor in 2009, Smeltzer was the director and choreographer for the European tours of "West Side Story" and "The Golden Musicals of Broadway." Most recently, he was the director and choreographer for the national tour of "The Great American Trailer Park Musical."

To purchase tickets to "Pippen," call the Mitchell Hall box office at (405) 974-3375. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and UCO faculty and staff, and $4 for UCO students.  Again, the production is recommended for mature audiences.

For a complete schedule of UCO College of Fine Arts and Design performances and events, visit