"The Piper: A workshop production": Bring a pen

by Kristina Latino

It’s not every day an entirely student written, produced and directed musical opens as a workshop and asks for feedback from the student body. But that's the idea behind The Piper: A workshop production, a new show running this week at Farkas Hall. The Piper uniquely explores the story of a magician who steals away all the children in Hamelin, a small town in Lower Saxony. Grounded in a mysterious history, this musical deviates from the versions of the story told by Disney and the Brothers Grimm to present a new, youthful version of the legend of the Pied Piper.

Because the musical is still developing, this production was presented in workshop form. Before the show began, Rose Bailey ’14, producer for The Piper, stood onstage and told the audience she was about to explain the "million dollar question": What is a workshop?

"Workshop" can be a fluid term in theater. In the case of The Piper, a workshop is a slightly pared down production of the musical. For this show, actors use scripts sparingly, the pit band is small but powerful, performers wear all-black costumes. The production is staged but there is no set. As the director put it, all we need to do is imagine the small town of Hamelin to make the show complete.

The musical is filled with catchy, driving rock songs that are performed by an enthusiastic cast. While aspects of The Piper are sure to change in the future, the show has a strong foundation from which to build, thanks in large part to the creativity of Team Piper. Innovative use of materials, such as substituting a rolling dolly cart for a ship crossing the ocean, helps the audience members paint a mental picture of the characters’ world and lose themselves in imaginary Hamelin.

At the end of each "show," audience members are asked to provide feedback on sticky notes attached to their programs and encouraged to stay for a brief talkback session with the production team. It is clear that everyone involved with the production is excited by its potential and ready to see the show grow.

The Piper: A workshop production will run 7 p.m. Oct. 19-21 in Farkas Hall.

[Caption: Set for "The Piper"]