The Paper Mill Playhouse's all-new production of the Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz musical comedy, Pippin begins previews June 7. Featuring new choreography from Rob Ashford, Pippin opens June 16 and is scheduled to run through July 23 at New Jersey's State Theatre.
As reported earlier, Schwartz and Hirson will be making "slight changes" to the Tony Award-winning show which stars Jim Newman (Encores!' On a Clear Day, Steel Pier) as The Leading Player, and Jack Noseworthy ("U-571") in the title role. Also featured are Charlotte Rae (from television's "The Facts of Life," and York Theatre's 70, Girls, 70), Ed Dixon (Scarlet Pimpernel, The Iceman Cometh), as well as Natascia A. Diaz (The Capeman, Bright Lights, Big City and Carousel) Sara Gettelfinger (City Center Encores! Tenderloin).
Paper Mill artistic director Robert Johanson will direct the production. At a June 1 press preview in Manhattan, theatre sources confirmed that Johnason will be continuing at the theatre indefinitely, further dispelling speculation of a possible change at Paper Mill. Sources told Playbill On Line that Johanson is not going anywhere.
Scheduled to perform in the ensemble are dancers Timothy J. Alex, Matt Allen, Roxane Barlow, Julie Connors, Gregg Goodbrod, Amy Higgins, Ramzi Khalaf, Davis Kirby, Matt Lashey, Aixa M. Rosario Medina, Joni Michelle, Clifton Olivier, Ivan Quintanilla and Wendy Warring.
Pippin was originally staged on Broadway in 1972 and featured choreography by the late Bob Fosse. That season, Pippin won 1973 Tony Awards for Best Director, Best Choreographer, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Set Design and Best Lighting, although the 1973 Best Musical award went to Harold Prince's production of A Little Night Music. Pippin ran for five years, hitting Broadway after composer-lyricist Schwartz's Godspell, (which was followed by his collaborative work on Leonard Bernstein's Mass) and before Broadway's The Magic Show, which earned him the distinction of being the first composer lyricist (though other teams have had the distinction) to have three shows running simultaneously on Broadway.
The Paper Mill production features new choreography by Rob Ashford, whose credits include Encores!' Tenderloin, and the upcoming Thoroughly Modern Millie). Fosse's choreography does not appear in the Paper Mill production.
The design team for the show will include set designer Michael Anania, lighting designer Kirk Bookman, costume designer Gregg Barnes, fashion designer Gene Meyer (opening number costumes), sound designer David. B. Smith and magic consultant Charles Reynolds. David Siegel is writing new orchestrations and David Chase will be the dance arranger.
Tickets are $36-$60. The Paper Mill Playhouse is located on Brookside Drive in Milburn, New Jersey. For the box office phone (973) 376-4343 or visit www.papermill.org.
-- By Murdoch McBride