Looking for Pippin

The first time I attended a musical at Cornell was at the end of my first semester here, when ‘Hair’ was produced at the Risley Theatre. Since I didn’t fully understand the socio-political background of the musical, I couldn’t bear to watch after the first act. This semester, my roommate and several acquaintances were heavily involved with the production “Pippin” at the Kiplinger Theatre. I was agnostic at first, but because I had friends in the cast and several housemates were going to watch it, I also decided to give it a shot.

I went to the show with three other friends, one of whom declared at the beginning that he was not a fan of musicals and was likely to fall asleep. I expected nearly the same from myself because I hadn’t slept much the previous night. But the show held my attention with its impressive set, costume, actors and music. There was nothing to complain about.

As Pippin, a young prince with high principles, returns to his father’s kingdom after completing his education, he believes that he is extraordinary and seeks glory. He vows to not settle for something small, to find his “corner of the sky”. In his pursuit of the extraordinary, Pippin tries many things but eventually rejects them all for being ordinary. When he is utterly dispirited and lost, a widow and her son find him and nurse him back to health. Pippin then leads the life of an ordinary farm-owner, with a loving family. However, one day Pippin realizes that this was not the glorious life he had envisioned.

Pippin’s story resonated with me and perhaps it would resonate with most Cornell students. The world tends to have high expectations of students at a university like Cornell, but our expectations for ourselves are even higher than others’. No one imposes the high-stress college lifestyle on us; we choose it for ourselves. Moreover, the fast-paced lives of our peers are enough to motivate us to do more. In every person I meet at Cornell, I find traces of Pippin.

*Spoiler alert*
The musical ends when Pippin realizes that in his search for the extraordinary, he only found mirages. He never found what he was looking for, regardless of how hard he tried, because the object of his search did not exist. He renounces the glory and glamour of the extraordinary and returns to his lady-love. However, they find their young son taking the same path as Pippin did, as he sings the song that the young, dreamy Pippin once used to. The finale was staged so fantastically that it gave me chills.

Although I enjoyed the production, the “love is all you need” turn was too cheesy for me. Either I am not mature enough to recognize it, or a line like that only belongs on the stage and not in real life. In any case, I am glad I went to this show.