Rupert Replaces Fierstein in Rags Concert

News   Rupert Replaces Fierstein in Rags Concert
Tony Award winner Michael Rupert, who will be seen in the new Broadway musical Legally Blonde, has replaced another Tony winner, Harvey Fierstein, in the 4th Annual World AIDS Day Concert presentation of Rags, which will be held Dec. 11 at the Nokia Theater.

Carolee Carmello and her new costar in Rags, Michael Rupert.
Carolee Carmello and her new costar in Rags, Michael Rupert. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Rupert will assume the role of Avram. Fierstein departed the benefit performance due to "a sudden schedule conflict," according to a press release.

The star-studded cast for the one-night-only event includes the previously announced Carolee Carmello as Rebecca, Lewis Cleale as Saul, Gregg Edelman as Nathan, Eden Espinosa as Bella, John Treacy Egan as Big Tim, Lainie Kazan as Rachel, David A. Austin as Ben and Struan Erlenborn as young David with Aaron Berk, Max von Essen, Stacia Fernandez, Adam Heller, Lisa Jolley, David Josefsberg, Colin Hanlon, Peter Lockyer, Stuart Marland, Anne L. Nathan and John Schiappa. MTV news correspondent Sway will host the evening.

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.” Michael Rupert won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his work in the revival of Sweet Charity. He also received a Tony nomination for his performance in William Finn's Falsettos, and his other Broadway credits include Ragtime, City of Angels, Mail, Shakespeare's Cabaret and Pippin.

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 are available 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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