RISE & SHINE BROADWAY FANS!!! We got more of the Best of Broadway coming your way on our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. We are only just 35 days away till Broadway?s Biggest Night of the year?. The 72nd Annual Tony Awards. Who is ready to start their morning with another Broadway show?
At # 35 on our countdown, we go on a journey where a coming of age boy is trying to find meaning and significance. Along the way, there?s a performance troupe guiding us along through this tale. We are talking about Pippin the Musicall. Based on the fictional story of Pippin The Hunchback (son of Charlemagne), the show features a score by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson.
From the 1973 telecast, Tony winner Ben Vereen in his signature role as ?The Leading Player? and the company of the original production perform the show?s famous opening number MAGIC TO DO.
PIPPIN was first conceived as a class assignment while Stephen Schwartz was studying Drama at Carnegie Mellon University in the 60?s. He was part the school?s oldest Theatre troupe that creates all new original works called Scotch’N’Soda. Originally Schwartz not only wrote the score, he also directed that original early production. He also co-wrote some of the score with Ron Strauss. Many of the songs and lines from that early production did not even make it into the final version that we all know today. Schwartz graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a BFA in Drama in 1968.
4 years later following the success of his debut rock musical Godspell, Schwartz went back to working on the score of PIPPIN without Ron Strauss updating the story and songs. In addition, Schwartz hired a full new creative team under the leadership of acclaimed director and choreographer Bob Fosse. The original production of PIPPIN arrived on Broadway in the Fall of 1972 playing the Imperial Theatre for a total of 1,944 performances. The cast consisted of?.
Ben Vereen (later Samuel E. Wright, Northern J. Calloway, and Larry Riley) as ?The Leading Player?,
Tony winner John Rubinstein (later Tony winner Michael Rupert and Dean Pitchford) as the title role,
Christopher Chadman as ?Lewis?,
Eric Berry as ?Charlemagne?,
Jill Clayburgh (later Tony winner Betty Buckley) as ?Catherine?,
Leland Palmer (later Tony winner Priscilla Lopez ) as ?Fastrada?,
and Irene Ryan (later Dorothy Stickney after Ryan?s passing) as ?Berthe?.
The original production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. It won 4 including Best Leading Actor in a Musical (for Ben Vereen), Best Scenic Design (for Tom Walton), along with Best Direction and Best Choreography (both for Bob Fosse).
4 years after the show closed on Broadway, a one night only production in Toronto was filmed in 1981 for Canadian Television. Directed by Bob Fosse?s dance captain Kathryn Doby and the show?s book writer Roger O. Hirson, the filmed cast included?
Ben Vereen reprising his Tony winning performance as ?The Leading Player?,
William Katt as the title role,
Christopher Chadman reprising his Broadway role as ?Lewis?,
Benjamin Rayson as ?Charlemagne?,
Leslie Denniston as ?Catherine?,
Tony winner Chita Rivera as ?Fastrada?,
and Martha Raye as ?Berthe?.
The filmed performance was also abbreviated. Several songs and dialogue used in the original Broadway production was cut for the filmed performance including the song I GUESS I?LL MISS THE MAN. The filmed production is now available on DVD.
In addition to its success originally on Broadway, PIPPIN went on to become a worldwide hit including productions in London?s West End and many regional productions out in North America. The show was later revived on Broadway only once.
The recent revival of PIPPIN was originally developed for the American Repertory Theater in 2012 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the show?s Broadway Debut. Under the direction of Tony winner Diane Paulus and choreography by Chet Walker, this production was well known for being done in the style of being in a circus. It included illusions by Paul Kieve and circus acts created by Gypsy Snider and members of the Montreal-based troupe Les 7 doigts de la main. In addition, the role of ?The Leading Player? that is usually played by a male was changed to a female. The Cambridge production did so well, it was brought to Broadway in 2013 playing the Music Box Theatre for a total of 746 performances. The 2013 revival cast consisted of?.
Tony winner Patina Miller (later Ciara Ren?e and Carly Hughes) as ?The Leading Player?,
Matthew James Thomas (later Kyle Dean Massey and The Voice’ Josh Kaufman) as the title role,
Erik Altemus as “Lewis”
Tony nominee Terrence Mann (later John Rubinstein and Tony winner John Dossett) as ?Charlemagne?,
Tony winner Rachel Bay Jones as ?Catherine?,
Tony nominee Charlotte d’Amboise as ?Fastrada?,
and Tony winner Andrea Martin (later Tovah Feldshuh, Annie Potts, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, and Priscilla Lopez) as ?Berthe?.
The revival was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2013 winning 4 including Best Revival of A Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (for Patina Miller).
In addition, PIPPIN also made Broadway History for both Patina Miller (the revival?s ?Leading Player?) and Ben Vereen (the original ?Leading Player?) as they became first time that actors of two different genders win a Tony Award for playing the very same role.
Today, PIPPIN continues to become a popular show performed in Schools, Community, and Regional Theaters everywhere.
Isn?t this show magical?!
Ben Vareen and Company perform “Magic to do” on the 1973 Tony Awards.
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