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Nadia Duncan Leads MPAP's Production of PIPPIN

NYU Pippin lead Nadia Duncan

It is PIPPIN’s 50th anniversary. How does it feel to be a part of the show at such a special time? 

Director Barrie Gelles has been able to acknowledge the show is 50 years old, which is an important part of her vision. Much of what happened in the original show was relevant to what was occuring in the political and social era of the seventies. Now some of the jokes or references would be taken differently.
Something special about doing the show now is bringing the timelessness out. Themes of self discovery, self-worth, independence, and feminism are just as poignant and relevant if we tweak their delivery a bit. I think it's going to be very successful. 

What is the tone of the show? 

We’ve made the “show within the show” that exists in PIPPIN distinct from the beginning of our production. In this version, we are very clearly a troop of actors doing a production of PIPPIN, and exist outside of the performance we’re putting on. 
This is something that previous productions have handled differently; sometimes even going as far as to say the outside cast is all imaginary. In this version, it’s less of a ominous fantasy and more of a realistic situation that can feel relatable. It’s the ‘imagine you had a tough boss and couldn't do anything about it with HR’ type of sinister. 

How does it feel to follow in the footsteps of Patina Miller and Ben Vereen?

I'm honored. I admire both of them very much. They're incredible people: as activists, advocates, mentors, teachers, and fantastic performers. 
I hope I make them proud. I want to show I'm not trying to imitate either of them, which is something I spoke with my director about. I'm doing my best to bring my voice and interpretation to the show. I do honor them through a few tiny references, which are small enough to represent homage and not be an imitation. 

Anything else that’s important for audiences to know?

Personally, I'm here to give it my all. In terms of the show, it's important to pay close attention to the nuance of the subtext. The ending of PIPPIN  is surprising and feels like it comes out of nowhere. However, we’ve woven clues and context throughout the production. Be sure to keep an eye out to see where it’s going. I won’t spoil it for you!

What are your goals after graduating?

To put it quite bluntly, I want to be on Broadway.
I did theater and opera for my undergraduate degree. I was able to go out and audition until Covid, which put a stop to performing. I felt like I needed help to get back into the groove, which is why I came to NYU. I wanted to get additional training and exposure in the field.

See Pippin February 9-13.


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