Pippin, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse with a score by Stephen Schwartz, opened October 23, 1972, and went on to run for 1,944 performances. The show has since become a staple of regional and community theatre.
Nominated for 11 Tony Awards, it took home five—including two for Fosse and one for leading man Ben Vereen. The show was revived by director Diane Paulus in 2013, winning four more Tony Awards. Today, we look back at the original principal cast of Pippin and where their careers took them after leaving the show.
Ben Vereen, Leading Player
Vereen won the 1973 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as the seductive Leading Player. Previously a Tony nominee for Jesus Christ Superstar, Vereen would go on to star in Grind, Hair, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Fosse and tour in the revival of Chicago in the United States and Canada. Most recently, he appeared in Broadway's Wicked as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Vereen also works extensively in television and film and on concert stages around the world. Like fellow Pippin performer Leland Palmer, he starred in Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (he had earlier appeared in Fosse’s film version of Sweet Charity) and opposite Richard Gere in 2014's Time Out of Mind and Chris Rock in Top 5. His television work encompasses everything from the original Roots miniseries to a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother to the recent Fox production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Amazon's series Sneaky Pete, as well as an upcoming episode of Magnum PI.
John Rubinstein, Pippin
Rubinstein, who made his Broadway debut as Pippin, has appeared in ten other Broadway shows—most recently playing Grandpa Joe in the 2017 production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as Fools (1981), Getting Away With Murder (1996), and Ragtime (1998). He also starred in the original 1980 production of Children of a Lesser God, earning a Tony Award for his performance in the groundbreaking play. In June 2014, Rubinstein joined the cast of the 2013 revival of Pippin, this time in the role of Charles.
Jill Clayburgh, Catherine
After her role as the elegant widow Catherine, Clayburgh’s career took off in full force. After departing the show in 1973, Clayburgh landed a part in the Broadway farce Jumpers in 1974 and then went on to feature film success in An Unmarried Woman (1978), Starting Over (1979), and First Monday in October (1981), earning Oscar nominations for both An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over. She returned to Broadway in Design for Living (1984), A Naked Girl on the Appian Way (2005), and Barefoot in the Park (2006). Ms. Clayburgh passed away in 2010.
Leland Palmer, Fastrada
After playing Pippin’s devious stepmother (and earning a Tony nomination), Palmer went on to appear in TV's Laverne & Shirley and Rhoda. She was also seen in Bob Fosse’s autobiographical movie All That Jazz. Although Pippin marked Palmer's final Broadway outing—she had earlier appeared in Applause, A Joyful Noise, Bajour, and Hello, Dolly!—she has continued to work on productions with theatres in California, most recently as the choreographer of 42nd Street Moon’s production of Irma La Douce in San Francisco.
Eric Berry, Charles
Berry, who played Pippin’s strict and demanding father Charles (King Charlemagne), was already more than 40 years into his acting career when the show closed in 1977. Previously, Berry had appeared in the Broadway productions of The Boy Friend, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Great God Brown, Gideon, and Charley’s Aunt, among countless others. His most recognizable role, however, is that of Charles in Pippin, a part he performed for the entirety of the show’s six-year Broadway run. Mr. Berry passed away in 1993 from cancer.
Irene Ryan, Berthe
Ryan had already enjoyed a long acting career before joining the show in 1973; in fact, at the time of the show’s opening, she had just turned 71. The veteran actor most notably played the role of Granny in the television show The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired from 1962 through 1971 and earned her two Emmy nominations. In March 1973, six months after Pippin’s opening, Ryan suffered a stroke during a performance and was hospitalized. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and passed away about a month later.
Christopher Chadman, Lewis
Following his role as Pippin’s stepbrother, Chadman went on to work with Fosse on Chicago, Dancin’, and Big Deal. He was also seen in A Chorus Line, Rockabye Hamlet, and a 1976 revival of Pal Joey. Later, he transitioned into choreography and served as a choreographer for Merlin, Guys and Dolls, and The Sisters Rosensweig. His choreographic work in Guys and Dolls earned him a 1992 Tony nomination, a Drama Desk nomination, and an Outer Critics Circle nomination. In 1995 Mr. Chadman passed away from complications from HIV/AIDS.
Shane Nickerson, Theo
After playing Catherine's young son in Pippin, Nickerson became a regular on Guiding Light for three years and then, after a few more guest spots on television series, he largely retired from performing.