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The Princeton Festival presents "I Am Harvey Milk" by Andrew Lippa

originally published: 06/06/2023

The Princeton Festival presents "I Am Harvey Milk" by Andrew Lippa

Photo by Matthew Murphy

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- On Friday, June 23 at 7:00pm and Saturday, June 24 at 7:00pm the Princeton Festival presents I Am Harvey Milk, a musical theater oratorio by acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Andrew Lippa (Big Fish, The Addams Family). The show celebrates the legacy of Harvey Milk, an American icon and the first openly gay man to hold office in California.

Lippa’s oratorio is part choral work and part theater piece, taking audience members through Milk’s life, from his childhood to his assassination. Conducted by Andrew Lippa himself, these performances serve as the world premiere of a revised version of the original work, and take place in the tented performance pavilion on the grounds of beautiful Morven Museum and Garden.

The work is directed by Noah Himmelstein, a New York based theater director and associate art director of Everyman Theatre. The show features Benjamin Pajak as young Harvey, who most recently played the title role in Oliver!, for Encores! at NY City Center. Adam Kantor, portraying Harvey Milk, most notably played Mark Cohen in the closing cast of Rent on Broadway. Broadway and West End actress Scarlett Strallen and Family Equality’s CEO Stacey Stevenson perform as Soprano and Speaker, respectively. Andrew Lippa conducts the cast with the Princeton Festival Men’s Chorus and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.

The Princeton Festival presents "I Am Harvey Milk" by Andrew Lippa

Andrew Lippa (words/music/conductor) is an award-winning artist whose work spans the worlds of theater, film, television, and the concert stage. His musicals include The Addams FamilyBig FishThe Wild Party; new songs for You’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownA Little Princess; and John & Jen. In addition to I Am Harvey Milk, his concert works include I Am Anne HutchinsonUnbreakable; a world-premiere for pianist Lang Lang titled Rising Tide; as well as his hit song for Kristin Chenoweth in Disney’s Descendants titled “Evil Like Me” (gold record) and songs for Renée Fleming, Idina Menzel, Vanessa Williams, and others. He wrote the score for Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention and has conducted the San Francisco, Chicago, and Cincinnati Symphony orchestras.

The Princeton Festival is hosting two companion events in conjunction with I Am Harvey Milk. On Saturday, June 17 at 2:00pm, the Princeton Public Library offers a free screening of the 2008 film MILK, starring Sean Penn. Penn won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. Andrew Reynolds, author of Children of Harvey Milk: How LGBTQ Politicians Changed the World (Oxford, 2018) will open the screening with some brief remarks.

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On Friday, June 23 at 4:00pm, the Princeton Festival is holding a panel discussion with composer and conductor Andrew Lippa. Lippa will speak with young musicians about his process in writing I Am Harvey Milk and the ways artists can create social change through their work. The event takes place at the Stockton Education Center and is free and open to the public.

Tickets for the June 23 and June 24 performances at Morven Museum and Grounds range from $42 - $125; youths 5-17 receive a 50% discount with an adult purchase. Visit the Princeton Symphony Orchestra webpage at or call (609) 497-0020.

Health and Safety: The Princeton Symphony Orchestra is closely monitoring and adhering to the New Jersey Department of Health’s COVID-19 Requirements. Attendees will receive information regarding safety procedures, entry, seating directions, etc. in advance of their selected live performance(s).

Accessibility: The Princeton Symphony Orchestra is committed to ensuring all programming is accessible for everyone, working with venues such as Richardson Auditorium to provide needed services. Contact ADA Coordinator Kitanya Khateri for questions about available services at or 609-905-0973. Note: some services require at least two weeks’ notice to arrange.

The Princeton Festival is the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s flagship summer program showcasing the performing arts. Founded in 2004, the Princeton Festival quickly established a reputation for artistic excellence and innovative programming. Every year in June, thousands of people from the mid-Atlantic region and beyond come to the Festival to enjoy the quality and variety of its programs. Offerings include opera, musical theater, dance, orchestra and chamber music, and a constantly evolving selection of other genres, including jazz, world music, choral concerts, and country music. The Festival has long-standing partnerships with public libraries and local churches, and promotes life-long learning in the arts through free educational lectures presented to a wide and diverse community. 

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is a cultural centerpiece of the Princeton community and one of New Jersey’s finest music organizations, a position established through performances of beloved masterworks, innovative music by living composers, and an extensive network of educational programs offered to area students free of charge. Led by Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov, the PSO presents orchestral, pops, and chamber music programs of the highest artistic quality, supported by lectures and related events that supplement the concert experience. Its flagship summer program the Princeton Festival brings an array of performing arts and artists to Princeton during multiple weeks in June. Through PSO BRAVO!, the orchestra produces wide-reaching and impactful education programs in partnership with local schools and arts organizations that culminate in students attending a live orchestral performance. The PSO receives considerable support from the Princeton community and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, regularly garnering NJSCA’s highest honor. Recognition of engaging residencies and concerts has come from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the PSO’s commitment to new music has been acknowledged with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and a Copland Fund Award. The only independent, professional orchestra to make its home in Princeton, the PSO performs at historic Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University.

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