John Rubinstein, Broadway's Original Pippin, Reclaims His "Corner of the Sky"

By Robert Simonson
09 Jun 2014

John Rubinstein
John Rubinstein

Playbill.com catches up with Tony Award winner John Rubinstein, who starred in the title role of Pippin in 1972, before he steps into the role of Pippin's father, King Charlemagne, in the award-winning revival.

Broadway has seen its share of show-actor reunions in recent years — occasions when an actor associated with the original production of a famous show returns to essay either the same or a different role in a revival of the same show.

Charles S. Dutton revived his portrayal of Levee in a 2003 revival of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Danny Glover, who played Willie in the original 1982 Broadway production of Athol Fugard’s ”MASTER HAROLD”…and the boys, revisited the play in 2003 to take on the part of Sam. More recently, Chip Zien, the original Baker in Into the Woods, played the Mysterious Man in the 2012 Central Park production. Alan Cumming repeated his performance as the Emcee is a replication of the 1998 Sam Mendes-Rob Marshall Cabaret.



Now, we have the return of John Rubinstein to Pippin. In 1972, Rubinstein made his name by playing the title role in the original Broadway production, directed by Bob Fosse. Now, he will play Pippin’s dad, King Charlemagne, for five weeks beginning June 20. 

How did this all come about?
John Rubinstein: I was in New York speaking at my 50th high school graduation ceremony. I came for the weekend. I was seeing all my old buddies I hadn’t seen for 50 years. It was really a wonderful event. And suddenly, on a Friday, my agent in New York called. He said, “Hey, can you get yourself to New York somehow?” I said, “Hey, I’m here!” He said, “Get yourself together, learn 15 pages of material and jump into an audition on Monday morning to take over for Terry Mann in Pippin.” So, I did. I auditioned for everybody on that Monday, and here I am.

When you agent suggested the idea of going into Pippin, did that appeal to you?
JR: Sure, it did. I love the show. I love working on Broadway. It’s where I feel I live. But it’s easier to raise children — I have five kids — in California, than it is in New York City. I’m in L.A. with a big eye as to what’s going on in New York. It’s part of my DNA. The thought of returning to the show and playing the king was absolutely delightful.

 Continued...