2017-05-25 / Neighbors

TA alum reflects on ‘Pippin’ tour

By Sarah Beth Campisi
Contributing Writer

Saco native Camden Loeser, left, performs with other cast members of “Pippin,” which was recently performed in Portland. (Denise Trupe courtesy photo) Saco native Camden Loeser, left, performs with other cast members of “Pippin,” which was recently performed in Portland. (Denise Trupe courtesy photo) SACO – Most people have dreamt of being on a stage, of bright lights illuminating their face and applause surrounding them. Few experience this dream becoming a reality, but if it does, it makes success that much sweeter. One Thornton Academy alum knows the glow of the limelight all too well.

Camden Loeser, 21, is a player in the touring Broadway production of the musical, “Pippin.” Loeser is also an understudy for the roles of Lewis and Pippin, as well as the show’s dance captain.

The story of “Pippin” follows King Charlemagne’s young son Pippin through his journey to find a pursuit in life that is “completely fulfilling.” The play is set in a colorful, circus-like setting. Some songs from the show are, “Corner of the Sky,” “Glory” and “Magic to Do.” The result is a thrilling, lively performance of singers, dancers and acrobats.

The tour brought Loeser back into town recently, to Portland to perform on the Merrill Auditorium stage.

“Pippin” has been a part of Loeser’s life for as long as he can remember.

“It was my father’s favorite musical,” Loeser said. “He used to make me listen to the cassette tape we had of ‘Pippin.’”

Loeser thanked his father, David Loeser, who died in 2007, in his bio of the Broadway show’s program. Loeser had the opportunity to perform “Pippin,” whether it was the show’s most well known song, “Magic to Do” in variety concerts, or as the lead role in Thornton Academy’s production of the show.

In spring 2014, Thornton Academy’s theater department, the TA Players, put on, “Pippin,” with Loeser playing Pippin himself. Loeser graduated with the class of 2014.

“It was a trip when I first started rehearsing for this production. I remembered doing it before, it felt like deja vu. I knew the lines, the story, the music,” Loeser said.

When he received the news that he was cast in the touring Broadway production, Loeser said he was “elated.”

“I hadn’t expected something like this to happen for a while, if it ever did happen … I was overwhelmed.”

This, however, is a whole new stage and environment to perform within, and Loeser said the differences are quite clear. Within the first few days of rehearsal, each member of the cast, including the leads, had to show a character presentation, to prove they were fully immersed in their roles.

“In high school the characterization focus was on the leads. It always is, that’s how theater works a lot of the time. But here, every detail was important for every single person in the cast. We found ourselves connected to the material as if we were the first cast to ever do it,” he said.

To hit the road with the Broadway show, Loeser had to make a few sacrifices. Currently a student at New York University, in New York City, and only a semester away from graduation, Loeser had to defer a year. He was studying for a bachelor of fine arts in dance. The hiatus was a difficult decision, Loeser said.

“’Pippin’ can help my career just as well as NYU can. Friends will always be there. NYU will be there. This offer would not always be there. That’s what’s difficult about this field. You are offered a job and you uproot your life to make that happen, because you don’t know if you will have another offer,” Loeser said.

The journey thus far has been a long one for Loeser. After five weeks of rehearsal, the tour kicked off this year in Yakima, Washington on Jan. 12. Since then, the cast has toured nonstop. The tour will end briefly on June 18, in North Stonington, Connecticut, but will start up again in August and will continue through November.

On May 13, the cast performed two important shows – important because they brought Loeser back to his turf, in Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. Loeser remembered attending tours at the auditorium as a student in Saco schools, and finally had the chance to perform on that same stage.

“I felt like a stranger stepping into Merrill and Portland for that matter because I was there under such a different context. It’s almost like a business trip. You see things through different eyes,” Loeser said.

With this cast, Loeser found himself in a place of authority as the dance captain. Loeser’s position means he assists with leading the cast, such as providing critiques for fellow dancers. At one time, he was the youngest person in the cast giving notes to people several years older than himself.

“I was placed in a role of authority. Being the youngest, that was an odd experience. But everyone has been so respectful and understands that we are simply doing our jobs,” Loeser said.

Loeser said one of the most important elements of a cast is support.

“We are a family, we understand one another, we are there for one another. I know that if I am having a bad day any one of these people would be there for me. You couldn’t ask for anything better living this lifestyle. Support is important. And I feel very supported.”

“Pippin” will be staged in Niagara Falls, Ontario from now until May 28.

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