A Devilish Delight

Soldiers Tale

Darkly whimsical production draws together alumni, students and faculty

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

In 1918, Igor Stravinsky had a reputation as a composer of grand ballets, but in the aftermath of World War I, he didn’t have the resources to stage works on that sweeping scale. So he teamed with poet Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz to create a small-ensemble piece with out-sized inventiveness. The Soldier’s Tale became an instant hit, using music, words and dance to tell the story of a young soldier who sells his violin to the devil.

“It’s kind of an interdisciplinary fairy tale,” says Kevin Piñero ’12, a New York City-based actor, dancer, choreographer, lyricist and composer who returns to Dickinson this week to bring the iconic work to life (Friday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m., Mathers Theatre), along with fellow performance pro Cassidy Dermott ’11. “It’s an amazing combination of music, dance and acting—all of the types of performance I like to flow between,” Piñero adds.

The free, Friday-night-only performance marks the second Dickinson-related production of The Soldier’s Tale this year, with the two young alumni reprising roles they performed with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta last summer at Pendragon Theatre (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), under direction by Professor of Theatre Karen Kirkham, and with choreography by Sarah Skaggs, director of dance. The summer production also featured the talents of Noam Wegner ’15 and Courtney Meyer ’15, both theatre-arts majors who plan to pursue professional performance careers.

As before, Piñero stars as the Dancing Soldier, and Wegner, the Speaking Soldier, while Meyer plays the Princess and Dermott, the Devil. Professor of Music Robert Pound returns to campus, mid-sabbatical, to conduct Associate Professor of Music Blanka Bednarz (violin); contributing faculty members Lee Philip (double bass) and Jeffrey Wohlbach (trumpet); and fellow musicians Christy Banks (clarinet), Robin Plant (bassoon), Greg Strohman (trombone) and Denny Daugherty (percussion). Professor of Theatre Todd Wronski narrates the tale.

“The blending of drama, dance and music is quite distinctive—it’s short and lively, with a distinctly Russian sensibility that is dark and whimsical at the same time,” says Wronski. “And, as always, there is almost nothing more enjoyable than sharing the stage with alumni who have gone on to start their own careers.”

“It’s a little surreal to be back in Mathers, since it’s a space that housed us for four years,” says Dermott, who has worked on independent films and several stage productions since graduating from Dickinson and has delivered master classes and workshops to the Dance Theatre Group. She also will appear onstage with Piñero in Triangle, a soon-to-open off-Broadway musical. “So it’s a little sentimental for me, and it certainly is a thrill.”

click to view photo gallery of a soldier's tale

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Published February 5, 2015