For proof that sex sells, check out Paper Mill's box office figures for this revisal of the Stephen Schwartz-Roger O. Hirson show that premiered on Broadway in 1972 in a legendary production directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. "It's is a very sexy show," says Schwartz. "And, fortunately, this is a company that you'll be happy to see doing that kind of stuff! It's an amazing looking cast."
That descrption certainly applies to Jack Noseworthy, who has the title role. Fresh off the plane from L.A., Noseworthy might be mistaken for just another West Hollywood stud muffin--until you read his credits and learn that he's a veteran of the Broadway companies of A Chorus Line and Jerome Robbins' Broadway, shows not meant for performers who are pretty but untalented.
"I'm friends with Rob Ashford [Pippin's choreographer]," Noseworthy says in explaining how this project came about for him. "We've known each other for quite some time, and he approached me about doing Pippin. Other than some benefits, the only stage work I've done in Los Angeles was a production of Equus at the West Coast Ensemble about five years ago. That was spectacular. It was supposed to run five weeks, but it ran for five months."
Currently enjoying quality screen time as Wentz in the blockbuster film U-571, Noseworthy shone during Pippin's press preview as his high, clear tenor soared through one of Schwartz's most beautiful songs, "Corner of the Sky." What prompted him to climb out of the sub and do a musical? "Ultimately, I decided that I needed to get back on stage--to feed that beast again," he says. "I do feel like I have these abilities; I can sing, and I can dance. Sometimes, I have felt that they've gone to waste. But I've always known that, if I kept them somewhat up to par by taking classes, they'd still be there for me when the time came to use them."
The yin to Noseworthy's yang in Pippin is Jim Newman as the Leading Player--a role famously filled by Ben Vereen in the original production and almost always played by an African-American ever since. So, is this an example of non-traditional casting? "Absolutely!" says Newman. "I'm kind of glad that they changed it, because you're less likely to miss Ben Vereen as much. Those are hard shoes to fill! You know, it's like anybody else but Patti LuPone playing Evita."
Given the vulnerable little boy quality diplayed by Newman as the star of the national tour of Big and in such other roles as Happy in Steel Pier on Broadway, the slick, worldly Leading Player might be thought of as a departure for him. "People who know me, when I told them I was cast in the show, assumed I was playing Pippin," he admits. "The concept of this production is that Pippin and the Leading Player are sort of like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; we're really buddies, until I turn on him in the end."