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The Magic in Pippin
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The Lead Player of Pippin is very much like a circus ringmaster. The part was played by Marcus Beckett. He was taught to perform an appearing cane effect using a two-handed catch technique developed by Fred Goode. The cane (or wand, in this case) appears in the open hand least expected.

The opening musical number of Pippin has lots of action, acrobatics, juggling, unicycles and magic. The young man on the left, Damien Ochere playing the part of Lewis in the show, is performing a color changing streamer effect, taught to him by Qua-Fiki.

Still part of the opening number, Byron Freeman, the actor who later plays King Charlemagne, performs an open handed version of Astro-Sphere as taught to him by Fred Goode, based on Qua-Fiki's special adaptation of the rigging. In the background, the vanishing box illusion is being brought forward.

A young lady, Haneefah James, is placed into a metal frame box, which is covered with a cloth and brought to the front of the stage. Suddenly the box vanishes, lady and all. The illusion was created just for this show by Fred Goode. The operating assistants to the left and right of the box are Ramel Coleman and Haneef James. Playing the part of the illusionist in front of the box is Quamir Patton.

This is not a Wiz Kid idea, but very clever none-the-less. The stilt-walker (name needed) is walking on home-made stilts made from plastic crates strapped to her feet. The secret is given away when she gets down on one "knee." On the left is Ryan Elie, playing the role of Pippin.

Wiz Kid Qua-Fiki rode across the stage at various times during the production. In this scene, he used his Giraffe unicycle to deliver a map to King Charlemagne, and now he rides back the other way. The only way we could capture action shots like this was by using a high quality video camera and then "snipping" out one frame for a photo. On the right, Qua-Fiki is followed by Timar Baldwin on a smaller unicycle, as the two of them ride rings around the stilt walker.

The big illusion of the show is referred to as the "Grand Finale" in the script, by which they mean Pippin's death in flames. To give Pippin a demonstration of what to expect, the actors roll on a platform and a curtain, along with some steps used to mount the platform.

Taking part in the demonstration is Haneef James, who slowly and dramatically steps up onto the platform.

Slowly and dramatically, the curtain is raised up high over the "victim's" head.

The Leading Player, Marcus Beckett, ignites the flame, as the rest of the cast gathers around in appreciation of the "sacrifice."

A flash of fire dwindles down to a spark still floating in the air as the curtain drops to show that the "victim" has been consumed in the flames.

Just in case Pippin (or the audience) thinks that the "victim" merely dropped down into the platform to escape the flames, the Leader has the assistants tilt the platform over and everyone can see that it is empty.

The Leader points and sings "Ta-dah!" and the victim, Haneef James, reappears out in the audience on the left steps above the stage (inset). Pippin (Ryan Elie beneath inset) declares, "That's a trick!" but the Leader assures him that when Pippin does it, it will be "for real." Pippin is left to decide whether he will choose the extraordinary flaming end to his life, or go out in the ordinary way, by growing old, surrounded by his family and loved ones.

The entire cast was required to make that magical illusion "Grand Finale" real to the audience, and all played their parts very well and with conviction. The illusion itself was designed by Fred Goode, produced by the Master Carpenter and Set Designer, Daniel Friday, and staged by Director James Lemon and Fred Goode.

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