Rankin is in the ensemble for the show that runs July 22-30 inside the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield.
Joey Rankin, about to begin her second year as a musical theater student at Western Michigan University, is thrilled to have her first professional role in the cast of Nicely Theatre Group’s production of Pippin.
Rankin is in the ensemble for the show that runs July 22-30 inside the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. The idea of the Tony-winning production is finding the right place in meaning and significance.
“Getting to do what I love with COVID currently on the wane makes me so grateful,” said Rankin, who has been in many musicals at Bloomfield Hills High School and includes her favorites as Fiddler on the Roof, A Chorus Line and Into the Woods.
Directed by Mitch Master with choreography by Mark McCleese, Pippin stars Terri Manning as Leading Player and Braden Cooper as Pippin.
The cast is performing a score by Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music and lyrics for Godspell and Wicked and married a woman from Michigan, Carole Piasecki, who brought him back to the state to visit family and present programming.
“The players in the ensemble can be sultry and secretive,” said Rankin, 19, whose interest in professional theater started when she was 5 and attending a theater camp. “I stayed with it ever since because I loved the people and the work and found musical stories so amazing.”
Rankin continued her studies with Sky’s the Limit Musical Theatre Camp and the Actors Avenue Acting Studio, which she believes kept her focused on career opportunities. Dancing studies were at the Bloomfield Hills Dance Academy and vocal lessons were with a private teacher.
“We would all get together and practice in a woman’s basement,” she recalled. “We would go around to the restaurants, perform there and had the most fun. I met role models and friends I still keep in touch with.
“I did a lot of theater in Bloomfield Hills High School. I was in the musical theater club, International Thespian Society, so I was involved in that. I was the president and on the board for a couple of years. I did a bunch of shows and fundraisers and got to be a part of creating those things which were just amazing.”
Although she has been brought up with Jewish cultural perspectives, Rankin’s religious opportunities have been expressed through Tamarack Camps. She reports that travels have taken her to other religious communities where practices have been observed.
COVID interfered with theater programming for Rankin. She was at home for the second half of her junior year and her senior year of high school.
“I got to tour the whole program at Western Michigan University before everything closed for COVID,” she said. “I got to go see the campus and meet the people. I’ve found that the professors have such amazing things to teach, and students are so involved, enthusiastic and welcoming. It’s a great place to further education in musical theater because it’s welcoming, safe and lets you explore in different ways.”
This summer is providing a busy time for Rankin, who rehearses for Pippin in the evening and works days as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant. Although her role is mostly dancing, she gets to participate in group songs, such as “Glory,” “Morning Glow” and “Magic to Do.”
“The thing I like most about Pippin is how grownup the message is,” she said. “There isn’t one person it can’t apply to as the world is moving so fast with different opportunities and things to do.
“You’re able to appreciate your surroundings and focus on happiness as really important and something we can forget about right now.
“Pippin is about a boy growing up to be his own person. He doesn’t really know what path he wants to take and tries all of these different things to attempt to figure out who he is. At the end, he realizes that he just had to listen to himself to figure out who he was. The path came after that.”
Pippin will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 22-23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 24. It also will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 29-30. $35, (248) 406-6677.