Espinosa, Austin and von Essen Set for All-Star Rags Concert

News   Espinosa, Austin and von Essen Set for All-Star Rags Concert
Preliminary casting has been announced for the 4th Annual World AIDS Day Concert presentation of Rags, scheduled for Dec. 11 at the Nokia Theater.
Eden Espinosa
Eden Espinosa

The 20th anniversary concert of the short-lived Broadway musical will feature recent Wicked star Eden Espinosa as Bella, I Love You Because's David A. Austin as Ben, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Struan Erlenborn as David, Dance of the Vampires' Max von Essen as an American and Drowsy Chaperone's Stacia Fernandez as Rosa. Additional casting will be announced shortly.

The one-night-only event is being co-presented by artistic producer Jamie McGonnigal and The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. Altar Boyz' Stafford Arima will direct the concert, which will feature musical direction by Avenue Q’s Mark Hartman. The creative team will also include Traci Klainer (lighting design), Walter Trarbach and Tony Smolenski (sound design), David Korins (set design), Michael Bottari and Ronald Case (costume design) and Patricia Wilcox (choreography).

Rags, which features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Joseph Stein, played Broadway’s Mark Hellinger Theatre in August 1986. Although the run was brief, the musical garnered five Tony nominations and boasted a cast that included Teresa Stratas, Judy Kuhn, Terrence Mann, Lonny Price, Marcia Lewis, Dick Latessa and Larry Kert.

The musical, according to press notes, tells the story of "Rebecca, an immigrant who finds herself and her young son, David, very much alone in the brand new world of America. Through Rebecca's encounters and relationships with others experiencing similar struggles, Rags tells of the American experience when the 'melting pot' was an ideal many hoped to be a part of." The lush score features such tunes as "Brand New World," "Blame It on the Summer Night," "Dancing with the Fools" and the title tune.”

Proceeds from the concert will benefit The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation and Camp TLC (Teens Living with a Challenge), a residential summer camp program for teens living with HIV/AIDS. For additional information about JDAF/Camp TLC, visit Rags tickets will go on sale Oct. 16 at 5 PM by visiting or the Nokia Theatre box office. For sponsorship opportunities, e-mail


Jamie McGonnigal and Kate Shindle founded the World AIDS Day Concerts in 2003 to “help raise awareness of the health holiday, and to establish community within the theatre community.” Children of Eden was the first all-star concert, followed by mountings of Pippin and The Secret Garden. For information on the World AIDS Day events visit

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