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An all-star cast including Patricia Hodge, Lucie Jones, Cedric Neal, Zizi Strallen, and Jac Yarrow will co-star with Alex Newell in the upcoming 50th anniversary concert production of Pippin at Theatre Royal Drury Lane on the 29 and 30 April. Musical lovers will delight in an infectiously unforgettable score from four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner and musical theatre giant Stephen Schwartz, including the classic songs Corner of the Sky and Magic to Do. The London Musical Theatre Orchestra will perform the score with a full choir. 

Alex Newell

Tony Award-winning, Grammy-nominated Alex Newell is cast as the Leading Player, the narrator throughout the show, a role that involves introducing characters, guiding Pippin, commenting on the action and singing lots of show tunes.

Alex Newell is the first openly non-binary performer to win a Tony Award in an acting category for their role as Lulu in Shucked, which just closed on Broadway. Alex stopped the show at every performance with a standing ovation for their act one song, Independently Owned. They are also known for their role as transgender student Wade “Unique” Adams on the TV series Glee. Breaking barriers and challenging gender norms at a time when the conversation around gender identity was not widely accepted, Alex has remained one of the leaders in the quest for equality. Alex played Mo on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and also starred as Asaka in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island at the Circle in the Square Theatre in 2018. Last year, Alex was also awarded recognition in both the Variety New Power of New York List and the 2023 TIME 100 Next list. 

Pippin is a soul-searching exploration of one man’s journey to find himself, his place and purpose in life. Heir to the Frankish throne, the young prince Pippin is searching for the secret to true happiness and fulfilment. He seeks it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power (after disposing of his father, King Charlemagne the Great). In the end, though, Pippin finds that happiness lies not in extraordinary endeavours but in the unextraordinary moments that happen daily.

Stephen Schwartz said, “Although there have been some excellent recent productions of Pippin in the UK, the show never gets to be heard with a full live orchestra and choir. With a cast led by the astonishing Alex Newell and produced under the always first-rate auspices of Katy Lipson’s Aria Entertainment and Carter Dixon McGill, this concert promises to be a once-in-a-blue-moon event. I, for one, cannot wait to experience it!”

Pippin at Theatre Royal Drury Lane with non-binary lead Newell.

Mr Schwartz is perhaps best known in the UK for his scores for Wicked and Godspell. Other shows to which he contributed music and/or lyrics and which have been seen in the UK include Pippin, The Baker’s Wife, Children of Eden, Working, Rags and The Prince of Egypt. He collaborated with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s film Enchanted, as well as the animated features Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He wrote the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt. In the classical field, he has composed the opera Séance on a Wet Afternoon and co-wrote the English texts with Leonard Bernstein for Bernstein’s Mass. Awards include three Academy Awards, four GRAMMY Awards and the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award. Mr Schwartz has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. A book about his career, Defying Gravity, is published by Applause Books.

Patricia Hodge in Pippin at The Theatre Royal Drum Lane.
Patricia Hodge ©Alisa.Connan (Image Supplied)

Olivier Award winner Patricia Hodge will play Berthe. She created the role of Catherine in the original 1973 West End premiere of Pippin, directed by Bob Fosse. She recently starred in Private Lives at the Ambassadors Theatre. Patricia Hodge is one of the UK’s premier actresses. Her extensive stage and screen roles include A Little Night Music, Look Back in Anger, Travels With My Aunt and her Olivier award-winning performance in Money at the National Theatre. Her widely known screen roles include Hotel du Lac, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, Miranda, Rumple of the Bailey, Downton Abbey and A Very English Scandal.

Lucy Jones in Pippin at The Theatre Royal Drum Lane.
Lucie Jones (Image supplied)

Lucie Jones will play Catherine. Her West End roles include Jenna in Waitress, Fantine in Les Misérables and Elphaba in Wicked. On UK tour, she starred as Meat in the arena tour of We Will Rock You, Elle in Legally Blonde and Maureen in Rent. She was Victoria in the musical American Psycho at the Almeida Theatre. She represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 with the song ‘Never Give Up on You’.

Cedric Neal in Pippin at The Theatre Royal Drum Lane.
Cedric Neal (Image supplied)

Cedric Neal (Charlemagne) has just been Olivier nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his recent role as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre. His West End roles include Back to the Future (BroadwayWorld Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical) and Berry Gordy in Motown the Musical. He was also in Porky & Bess and Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre).

Ziti Strallen in Pippin at The Theatre Royal Drum Lane.
Zizi Strallen (Image supplied)

Zizi Strallen (Fastrada) is best known for her Olivier-nominated role as Mary Poppins in the West End. Her other West End roles include Fran in Strictly Ballroom and Lana in Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man, for which she won Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) at the National Dance Awards and Young Phyllis in Follies at the National Theatre. Off West End, she played Meg in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Merrily We Roll Along.

Jac Yarrow in Pippin at The Theatre Royal Drum Lane.
Jan Yarrow (Image supplied)

Jac Yarrow (Pippin) was Olivier nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for his West End debut in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He recently appeared in Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends at the Gielgud Theatre and had a starring role in Pantoland at the London Palladium. 

With Ryan Heenan as Theo and Idriss Kargbo as Lewis. And Amonik Melaco, Jak Allen-Anderson, Sally Frith and Gleanne Purcell-Brown as Players. 

Tickets are from £29 and are available at https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/pippin-50th-anniversary-concert/

Pippin – 50th Anniversary Concert is on the 29th and 30th April, 7:30 pm, at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JF, United Kingdom

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