Espinosa and Austin Cast as Young Immigrants in
20th Anniversary Production of
On December 11th, 2006, the 4th Annual World AIDS Day Concert, presented by Jamie McGonnigal in association with The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation will take place. This year’s presentation, a 20th Anniversary Concert of the Broadway musical Rags, will be held at Times Square’s brand new Nokia Theater.
Rags, with music by Tony Award winner Charles Strouse (Bye, Bye, Birdie; Annie), lyrics by Academy and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Prince of Egypt), and a book by Tony Award winner Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba), premiered on Broadway in August of 1986. Though short-lived on Broadway with only 22 performances, Rags garnered 5 Tony nominations and leading lady, Teresa Stratas walked away with the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. The original cast featured several Broadway luminaries including Judy Kuhn (Les Miserables, Chess), Terrence Mann (Les Miserables, Beauty & The Beast), Lonny Price (Merrily We Roll Along, A Class Act), Marcia Lewis (Chicago, Annie), Dick Latessa (Follies, Hairspray), and Larry Kert (West Side Story, Company).
The cast of the upcoming World AIDS Day Concert will feature Wicked’s Eden Espinosa as young Bella, a new immigrant to America and David A. Austin (I Love You, Because) as Ben, a young Jewish entrepreneur focused on winning Bella’s heart. Also joining the cast as young David, Rebecca’s son is Struan Erlenborn (last year’s Secret Garden Concert, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang), Max von Essen as an American, and Stacia Fernandez (Drowsy Chaperone) as Rosa. Other casting will be announced shortly.
Rags 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. In a time when immigration is a heavily debated topic, Rags reminds us of the intense struggle so many of our immigrant ancestors fought, to make this country what it is today.
Stafford Arima (Altar Boys, The West End’s Ragtime, The Secret Garden in Concert) will be directing the concert and Mark Hartman (Avenue Q, Pippin & Children of Eden Concerts, Pippin National Tour) will serve as music director. Designers joining the team for the upcoming concert include lighting designer Traci Klainer, sound designers Walter Trarbach and Tony Smolenski, set designer, David Korins, costume designers Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, and choreographer Patricia Wilcox.
The World AIDS Day Concerts were founded in 2003 by Jamie McGonnigal and Kate Shindle to help raise awareness of the health holiday, and to establish community within the theatre community. The inaugural concert marked the New York professional premiere of Stephen Schwartz and John Caird’s Children of Eden, and was performed at the stunning Riverside Cathedral. The following year, the hit musical Pippin was presented starring Rosie O’Donnell, Charles Busch and a return to his Tony Award-winning role by Ben Vereen. A subsequent major regional production and National tour of the same show will take place this year. And finally, in 2005, a critically-acclaimed concert of Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman’s The Secret Garden was performed. This most recent event was listed among the top ten theatre events of the year by Playbill.com and Theatremania.com. All three sold-out concerts have managed to garner International acclaim while raising much-needed funds and awareness for organizations catering to the HIV/AIDS Community. For information on the past World AIDS Day events and eventually the most up-to-date info on this year’s event, you can visit www.WorldAIDSDayConcert.org.
As with last year’s event, the proceeds will be benefiting The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation and Camp TLC (Teens Living with a Challenge), a residential summer camp program for teens living with HIV/AIDS. JDAF was created in 1996 by Carol DiPaolo, and her son Joey. When Joey was four (1984) he was infected with the HIV, (the virus that causes AIDS) from a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery. At age ten, Joey and family attended Camp Sunburst in California. Empowered and motivated by the camp experience both mother and son began public speaking in 1990 bringing AIDS education to parents, faculty, and students throughout the country. After becoming national AIDS spokespersons for several AIDS organizations, Carol and Joey decided to establish The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation (JDAF). This foundation is motivated by compassion and hope for young people who are living with HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 51% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. occur in young people under 25, with that statistic in mind, Joey and Carol have provided over 500 AIDS prevention and education programs nationwide. With AIDS a serious global issue, JDAF is extending their Camp TLC program to positive teens living outside the US, in countries devastated by the AIDS pandemic. For more information about JDAF/Camp TLC visit www.jdaf.org.
Tickets for Rags will go on sale at 5PM on October 16th at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Nokia Theatre box office. Sponsorship opportunities are available by emailing RagsConcert@aol.com. Currently seeking Private, Corporate and Media sponsorships.