Benefit Pippin Concert Raises Thousands

News   Benefit Pippin Concert Raises Thousands
The Nov. 29 benefit concert of Pippin — held at Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom — raised thousands of dollars for the National AIDS Fund.

Co-producer Jamie McGonnigal told Playbill On-Line that the star-studded concert of the Stephen Schwartz musical raised nearly $93,000 (before expenses) for the AIDS organization. Kate Shindle, a former Miss America who has been seen on Broadway in Cabaret and Jekyll & Hyde, co-produced the evening, which was presented by The Storm Theatre. Gabriel Barre directed.

Michael Arden, who was seen Off-Broadway in Bare, a Pop Opera, starred in the title role. The young actor was joined onstage by a bevy of theatre performers, including Laura Benanti as Pippin's love interest, Catherine; Ben Vereen, Rosie O'Donnell, Shindle, Darius de Haas and Billy Porter, who shared the role of the Leading Player; Terrence Mann as Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; Charles Busch, who donned drag to play Berthe; Harrison Chad as the young Theo; Cameron Mathison as Pippin's half-witted stepbrother, Lewis; and Julia Murney, who dazzled as Fastrada.

The Pippin ensemble comprised 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. Avenue Q's John Tartaglia — and his alter ego Rod — made a surprise guest appearance.

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).

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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.

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