Porter and de Haas Part of All-Star Pippin Concert

News   Porter and de Haas Part of All-Star Pippin Concert The Nov. 29 all-star Pippin concert to commemorate World AIDS Day will feature several actors splitting the role of The Leading Player, the part created on Broadway by Ben Vereen. Among the stars set to share that role are Billy Porter and Darius de Haas.
Darius de Haas, with Phylicia Rashad
Darius de Haas, with Phylicia Rashad Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Contrary to a previous announcement by producer Jamie McGonnigal, Raul Esparza will not be part of the event, a representative for the actor told Playbill On-Line. Esparza, who had agreed to perform, had to withdraw due to another commitment.

The company, which is still in formation, will also include The Wild Party's Julia Murney, Avenue Q's Jennifer Barnhart, Hairspray's Michael Longoria, Bat Boy's Sarah Chase, Bombay Dreams' Sriram Ganesan, Into the Woods' Jen Malenke and "Camp" star Kaitlin van Zandt. The one-night-only mounting of the Stephen Schwartz musical will also boast an 80-member choir and full orchestra.

Co-producers of the concert — to be held at The Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom at 34th Street and 8th Avenue — are Kate Shindle and Jamie McGonnigal. Choreography will be supplied by Andy Blankenbuehler with musical direction by Mark Hartman.

The New York City concert of Pippin will benefit the National AIDS Fund as well as the non-profit Storm Theatre. Tickets will go on sale at the end of October. Sponsorship opportunities are currently available by e-mailing PippinConcert@aol.com.

Darius de Haas has appeared on Broadway in Marie Christine, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Carousel, Rent and The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm. He created the title role in Running Man for which he received an Obie Award, and his other theatrical credits include The Bacchae, Saturn Returns, Children of Eden, Once On This Island and I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky. De Haas was also part of the recent benefit Hair concert. Billy Porter was recently seen in the Public Theater's productions of Merchant of Venice and King Lear. His Broadway credits include Grease!, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Smokey Joe's Cafe and the Dreamgirls Actors' Fund benefit. Regionally, Porter has appeared in Angels in America and Going Native, and his screen credits include "Broken Hearts Club," "Shake Rattle & Roll" and "The Intern."

Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the original 1972 Broadway production of Pippin, imposing his conceptual vision onto the bittersweet fairytale that Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson created. Ben Vereen was the Leading Player ("Magic to Do," "Simple Joys"), John Rubinstein played the searching Pippin ("Corner of the Sky," "With You"), Jill Clayburgh was his love interest ("I Guess I'll Miss the Man," "Kind of Woman"), Leland Palmer his evil stepmother ("Spread a Little Sunshine") and Irene Ryan was Pippin's feisty grandmother ("No Time At All"). Ryan (the famed stage actress and TV's "Granny" of "The Beverly Hillbillies") left the show for health reasons and died during the run.

The show ran 1,944 performances and was one of a handful of scores that brought a pop sound to the theatre in the 1970's (along with Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar).

*

Last season, McGonnigal and Shindle presented an all-star benefit of another Stephen Schwartz musical, Children of Eden. That concert also benefited the National AIDS Fund.