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Ben Vereen's the Wizard of Oz Starting May 31

Reported first online here on BroadwayWorld.com when the first casting discussions began in July 2004, and confirmed earlier this month by production sources, it's now official that the Tony-winning star will take over for George Hearn in Wicked on May 31, 2005.

Ben Vereen last appeared on Broadway in the straight comedy play, I'm Not Rappaport. Previously to that, he appeared in the Fosse review, a performance which was taped for DVD, and also appeared in Jelly's Last Jam, Sweet Charity, Hair, Grind, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Pippin. It was the latter of those shows, Pippin, also written by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz for which he won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actor in the Musical in 1973. His last New York stage appearance was even more recent, as "The Ghost of Christmas Present" in the Madison Square Garden production of A Christmas Carol.

Before taking over as the Wizard in May, Vereen can be seen making a number of concert and lecture appearances throughout the country. For details, click here to visit the star's official web site.

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