1/11/2023 Kim O'Brien

‘Dance Brought Me to Life’: Meet Kendall Lipham ’23

As winter break comes to a close, a group of thespians is hard at work rehearsing the first Franklin & Marshall production of “9 to 5: The Musical.”

Director Kendall Lipham, a senior at F&M, is running the show, but is quick to deflect credit to F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization.

“We've created a space where people can share their ideas and experiences freely,” said Lipham, a sociology and theatre double major. “The product is not at all mine; it's a work of art that we've all collaboratively built together over the past few months.”

The musical, based on the 1980 film of the same name, centers on the downtrodden working lives of three women with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton.

“This production is hilarious – not just because of how it was written, but because of the life imbued into it by the cast. Working with my peers has been so rewarding,” Lipham said. 

What drew Lipham all the way from Georgia to Lancaster? Learn more below.  

  • "I may tell the cast to do one thing, but if that doesn't feel natural to them, I don't want to force them to respond in a way that their body doesn't instinctually agree with. That's not what my type of theatre is about," said Kendall Lipham '23, student director. "I may tell the cast to do one thing, but if that doesn't feel natural to them, I don't want to force them to respond in a way that their body doesn't instinctually agree with. That's not what my type of theatre is about," said Kendall Lipham '23, student director. Image Credit: Deb Grove
  • Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Image Credit: Deb Grove
  • Student director Kendall Lipham '23. Student director Kendall Lipham '23. Image Credit: Deb Grove
  • Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Image Credit: Deb Grove
  • Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Image Credit: Deb Grove
  • Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Behind the scenes: Members of F&M Players, the College’s student-run musical theater organization, rehearse for the upcoming production of "9 to 5: The Musical." Image Credit: Deb Grove

Kendall Lipham '23

  • Hometown: Adairsville, Georgia
  • Majors: Sociology and theatre

Why did you choose to attend F&M? 

I was really drawn to the location. Having a school that is so central to D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York City provides me with so many opportunities for both my education and my life after graduation. It allows me to network in an area where I can achieve a lot of really valuable growth. 

Typically, I wouldn't have the resources to consider a school like Franklin & Marshall, but the financial aid program has made it so that I don't have to limit my opportunities to what I would typically be able to afford on my own.

Have you always been interested in theatre, or did you discover this passion at F&M?  

I've always been surrounded by role models who are passionate about the arts. My dad is a musician, and my mom is a dancer. I have four siblings who are equally, if not more talented, than I am. Growing up, I was so desperate for some semblance of individualism that I avoided theatre as much as I could until my final semester of high school when my arm was twisted into becoming the dance captain of “Big Fish.” Dance brought me to life, and I can't help but see it bring others to life as well. It amplifies our emotions by begging us to feel with our entire body. It's quite a refreshing contrast to a culture that often demands us to feel things only superficially. After “Big Fish,” I haven't been able to deny that being in a production feels like getting to know yourself.

Tell us about the production of “9 to 5: The Musical.”

 “9 to 5” is a comedy about how overcoming oppression is hard when everyone is pinned against one another. You see characters fantasize about who they want to be and then achieve these fantasies in ways they never would have imagined. This production is hilarious – not just because of how it was written, but because of the life imbued into it by the cast. Working with my peers has been so rewarding. Every person on the cast and staff has left a bit of themselves in this production. We've created a space where people can share their ideas and experiences freely. The product is not at all mine; it's a work of art that we've all collaboratively built together over the past few months. 

What is a typical rehearsal day like? 

It really depends on whether it's an acting, dancing or vocal rehearsal. We start each rehearsal with a mental health check-in and establish a goal for the time we have together. It's really important that these goals are achievable so that we never walk away feeling like we didn't do what we were "supposed to do" that day. And then we make time for warm-ups and games that get us in a good headspace to achieve our goals. After that, it's 100% experimentation, just playing with ideas until something feels right for everyone in the room. I may tell the cast to do one thing, but if that doesn't feel natural to them, I don't want to force them to respond in a way that their body doesn't instinctually agree with. That's not what my type of theatre is about.  

Did you stay on campus over winter break? If so, what was that experience like? 

Staying on campus over breaks always makes me think about my life here in a new way. While school is in session, Franklin & Marshall is my home. When school isn't in session, Lancaster is my home. I work off-campus and spend lots of time with my off-campus friends when school isn't in session. I take walks downtown and hike the trails in the area. Time away from school makes me realize how much Lancaster has to offer and how beautiful the area and the people are.

“9 to 5: The Musical,” directed by Kendall Lipham ’23, will debut at Roschel Theatre Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances are Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m and Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. View the box office page for more information. 

"Dance brought me to life, and I can't help but see it bring others to life as well. It amplifies our emotions by begging us to feel with our entire body. It's quite a refreshing contrast to a culture that often demands us to feel things only superficially."
Student director Kendall Lipham '23.
Kendall Lipham '23

Student Cast:

  • Ellie Borghi
  • Sam Correa
  • Emily Crahall
  • Cassidy Farley
  • Eesha Gupta
  • Mei-Lan Holland
  • Julia Homer
  • Aviva Katz
  • Abby Metcalf
  • Jake Miller
  • Kathleen Nguyen
  • Knox Schlossberg
  • Eve Shaeffer
  • Lauren Sphar
  • Dani Zoeller


Student Staff & Crew:

  • Katie DeSimone
  • Isabelle Foster
  • Vienna Greenlee-Brown
  • Brianna Herrera
  • David Jones
  • Kendall Lipham
  • Zidikiyah Morrison
  • Jahnel Rodriguez
  • Anna Waldstein-Torres
  • Tess Wyrick 
Story 1/27/2023

Community, Memory & Connection: Phillips Museum of Art...

“The Phillips is also pushing the boundaries on how to define art this semester. That's what is so...

Read More
Story 1/24/2023

‘My History Degree From F&M Provided the Foundation for Who...

When she stepped on campus as a first-year student in 1995, Hilary Green ’99 felt like she was...

Read More
Story 1/23/2023

No Fault in Our Stars for Aspiring Astronaut

F&M first-year student Menelaos Raptis was just 7 years old when he received his first telescope....

Read More