They've Got "Magic to Do": All-Star Cast Presents Pippin Concert Nov. 29

News   They've Got "Magic to Do": All-Star Cast Presents Pippin Concert Nov. 29 Ben Vereen, Rosie O'Donnell, Charles Busch and title player Michael Arden are just a few of the stars who will take part in the benefit concert of Stephen Schwartz's Pippin Nov. 29 at Manhattan's Center's Grand Ballroom.
Ben Vereen
Ben Vereen

Arden, who was seen Off-Broadway in Bare, a Pop Opera, stars in the title role of Pippin, which is being presented as a staged concert to commemorate World AIDS Day. Produced by Jamie McGonnigal and Kate Shindle, the one-night-only event features direction by Gabriel Barre. Show time is 7 PM.

Arden will be joined onstage by a bevy of theatre performers, including Laura Benanti as Pippin's love interest, Catherine; Vereen, O'Donnell, Shindle, Darius de Haas and Billy Porter, who will share the role of the Leading Player; Terrence Mann as Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; Charles Busch, who will don drag to play Berthe; Harrison Chad as the young Theo; Cameron Mathison as Pippin's half-witted stepbrother, Lewis; and Julia Murney, who has been cast as Fastrada.

The Pippin ensemble comprises Sarah Chase, Kristoffer Cusick, Adam Fleming, Barrett Foa, Sriram Ganesan, Julie Garnye, Jordan Gelber, Kearran Giovanni, Jenna Leigh Green, Colin Hanlon, Cheyenne Jackson, Natalie Joy Johnson, Michael Longoria, Jennifer Malenke, Kate Pazakis, Erin Quill, Randy Redd, Robb Sapp, Marty Thomas, Caitlin van Zandt, and Josh Young. The star studded mounting of the Stephen Schwartz musical will also boast an 80 member choir and full orchestra.

The concert, which benefits the National AIDS Fund and the non-profit Storm Theatre, features choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical direction by Mark Hartman. Michael Bottari and Ronald Case are the evening's costume designers.

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). Tickets range from $50 to $1,000, and many prices include the party following the performance, which will include the Pippin company. Call (212) 868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com. Donation options and sponsorship opportunities are available through www.pippinconcert.org or by contacting PippinConcert@aol.com.

The Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom is located in Manhattan at 311 West 34th Street.

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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.