When our son, Ryan, performed in the Stephen Schwartz musical, Pippin, at the Baytown Little Theater last year, it brought back a flood of memories. In 1984, Kim directed Pippin at the BLT. Reluctantly, he was forced to step into the role of Pippin (a story I’ll recount later in this post) before the show closed. Our son, Jason, played the young son, Theo, and Kim’s sister, Ferryn, played the part of Catherine. Kyle had the small part of young Pippin in the opening scene. Kim invited me into the show late to sing with a trio of women needed for one scene. The Martins often use family members to pad their casts and work their crews; a fun act I have grown to embrace.
Sadly, Kim’s 1984 BLT production of Pippin would turn tragic before the show closed. Our actor playing the part of Pippin became violently ill after the first weekend, hospitalized and eventually passed away. It was a dramatic, sad and very dark time in our theater’s history. The young man was such a talented actor, we all wondered what might have been if he had survived to act again. We lament his death and remember Billy each time we see a production of Pippin.
Years removed from that tragic ending of 1984, Baytown’s Lee College produced Pippin in 1993. Almost a decade after the BLT’s production, Kim’s interest revived, his love for Schwartz’s musical enticed him to audition. He was cast as Charles the king, Pippin’s father. He enjoyed the supporting role and the change in venue in which to perform a more mature role than Kim had played in shows of his past.
Fast forward to 2010 and it was not without some nostalgia that we attended a revival of Pippin at the BLT. This time our son, Ryan (only 3 years old in 1984), would now step into the role of Pippin. As the show progressed, we watched with pride as our son sang, danced and became the Pippin of this generation. We couldn’t help but smile and even sing a little under our breath as we observed our very talented son perform the same role his father almost two decades before. To add to the evening’s entertainment, in this production, Amy, Ryan’s wife, portrayed the role of Fastrada, Pippin’s step-mother. Though a Martin by marriage, Amy is extremely talented in her own right. Her Fastrada was sexy, intriguing as she regaled the audience with her performance.
Then, just a few months later, in the first month of 2011, under our son, Kyle’s direction produced the same musical, at the high school where he teaches theater arts. Once again a Martin is involved in a production of Pippin, this time played by high school aged students. Kyle would tone down the erotic dance sequence portraying a disturbed Pippin frolic with women in order to “find” himself. Kyle also cut the bedroom scene between Pippin and Catherine leaving what they did behind closed doors to the audience imaginations. Kyle executed a tasteful cut for that age group, producing a more youth-friendly production of Pippin which in no way detracted from the experience and message of Pippin’s story. With immense joy and pride both Kim and I watched the product of our son’s ambitions unfold on that stage.
Four very different productions of the musical Pippin, directed and performed by different Martin family members, has elevated this show to a cherished place in my heart. Wouldn’t it be something if one day in the future, we could attend yet another showing of Pippin staring, directed or produced by Aidan, Regan or Olivia Martin making it a third generation show? How cool would that be!