After year-long reorganization, the Dolphin Show to virtually premiere “Pippin”


Photo courtesy of Meghan Altemose

Performers in “Pippin.” The production was filmed in Cahn Auditorium.

Olivia Alexander, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

After two years without a production, the Dolphin Show is returning to Northwestern.

“Pippin,” The 78th Annual Dolphin Show, will be streamed virtually in three showings on Friday, May 28 at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, May 29 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday May 29 at 7:00 p.m.

Communication senior Rachel Khutorsky, the community producer for the Dolphin Show, has been involved with the organization since her freshman year. During its hiatus, she said she thought, “if I do one thing before I graduate, I want to bring the Dolphin Show back.” However, Khutorsky said doing so was challenging. 

Originally, the 78th production was scheduled to take place in January 2020, but disagreement within the organization during show selection caused many executive board members to resign in Spring 2019. The resignations took place following conversations regarding organization-wide issues regarding inclusivity.

Throughout the last year, Khutorsky said the Dolphin Show took several steps to rebuild trust within the campus community. She said the team held information sessions, building foundations that would allow the organization to thrive for years to come. 

The group also added a director of accessibility, inclusion and diversity to its executive board and implemented the Chicago Theatre Standards, a conflict resolution pathway.

Members also instituted a more comprehensive show selection process. Khutorsky said show selection started over Zoom at the beginning of the pandemic. “Pippin” is a musical that offers a natural flexibility, she said, because the show can be done with a cast of five or a cast of 30. 

The musical follows a young actor playing Pippin for the first time. “Pippin” breaks the fourth wall and invites viewers into “a show within a show,” Khutorsky said. 

The storyline speaks to the experiences of college students, Khutorsky said, especially those attending school during a pandemic. 

“A lot of us have had to reevaluate, think about what is truly important to us, what we want our purpose to be in the world,” Khutorsky said. “Pippin goes through, throughout his time in the show, a coming-of-age journey.”  

Communication junior Liam Oh, who plays Pippin, said the character reminds him of a stereotypical Weinberg freshman with an undecided major who doesn’t know what he wants to do. In turn, Oh said, he tries everything. 

Oh said he appreciates the opportunity to explore feelings of uncertainty, as the musical brings about questions of whether activities people do actually bring joy, or if they are just done out of obligation. 

“Overall, (“Pippin”) is about trying to find out what you are meant to do,” Oh said. “It’s about searching and longing and not being quite sure where you belong in the world.”

As COVID-19 guidelines changed, the show itself went through several iterations. The cast of 12 filmed the final product in Cahn auditorium with pre-recorded singing. 

Communication junior Emily Pate-Some plays Leading Player in “Pippin.” She said filming the show in just one day made the process feel like doing live theater. 

“People still want to make art in these trying times,” Pate-Some said. “People want to put on a show.” 

While the show may look different than normal years, Khutorsky said “Pippin” still brings the Dolphin Show back to campus for years to come. Khurtorsky said she believes limitations come with added creativity.

She also praised everyone involved for their flexibility throughout the process. 

“Although the show itself is really magical, and there’s definitely a lot of surprises in store for our audience, the process itself and just the fact that we were able to accomplish what we accomplished in a pandemic, despite all the challenges is also just really impressive,” Khutorsky said. 

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Twitter: @oliviagalex

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