Ben Vereen is a Broadway performer known for his roles in “Pippin,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Wicked.” He’s a Manhattan-based, Tony-award winning, triple threat singer, actor and dancer. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame this month.
Vereen is dancing his way to Venice Theatre for three shows Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9, to present his intimate one-man act filled with singing, dancing and personal stories. Tickets are $59. Call 488-1115, visit venicestage.com or visit the box office at 140 West Tampa Ave. for more information. He answered some of our questions via email when he had a little downtime from his hectic tour schedule.
We’ve heard you’re a busy man. How many shows and performances do you average in a year?
75. I do so many other things besides entertain. My work with Sanofi U.S. (a pharmaceutical company spreading diabetes awareness) is very important to me. And being on television and the theatre, on Broadway, my ongoing work with young people including my new summer (initiative) called “Path to Excellence,” which helps me keep a pulse on the young people.
We hear you were born in Florida, do you have any family here?
I was born in Dade County. I have family everywhere.
How often do you make it to Florida?
A few times a year.
When you come here is it still “work” or can you enjoy it as more of a vacation?
Mostly work, but I love my work and look forward to it as if it were a vacation.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to Florida?
The same thing I do everywhere — thank God for another day in this wonderful journey we call life.
How did it feel to get inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame?
Incredible. I was so honored. And to be in the company of so many other great actors — Stephen Schwartz was there, as was Liza (Minnelli), Meryl Streep, Phylicia Rashad, Dan Sullivan — supporting me as they always have. It was a great evening and I am forever grateful.
What advice would you give to someone that says, “I can’t dance.”
Everyone can dance, whether you stand up and do it or sit in your chair. Check out Mary Verdi Fletcher’s Cleveland Dance Company on Wheels (LINK: http://www.dancingwheels.org/about-us.asp)
Who’s your biggest icon dead or alive and why do you look up to him or her?
There have been so many. To name one would be unfair. They all have been great to me and for me. God bless them all.
What can the audience expect from your show at Venice Theatre?
Inspiration, joy, entertainment (and) love. A good time will be had by all.