BWW Feature: At Home With Ben Vereen
Ben Vereen is a show business legend. Yes, the word is liberally used, but not by this writer. Ben Vereen is a legend who has worked with the greatest in the business, broken barriers and ceilings alike, and lit the way for the generations that followed. Originating important roles on Broadway in Jesus Christ Superstar and Pippin, playing memorable roles on film for both screens, and continuing to thrill audiences in cabaret and concert performances, Mr. Vereen also works as an inspirational speaker, a philanthropist, and a voice that promotes love. Eternally optimistic and perpetually smiling, Mr. Vereen continues to work, even in quarantine - but he was generous enough to take a few minutes for a digital chat with Broadway World to let us know how his family is these days, what he has planned next, and his household needs to survive a lockdown.
This interview was conducted digitally and reproduced as delivered.
Name: Ben Vereen
First Cabaret Show: a Greek restaurant called Dionysus on 48th and owned by Georgia Sambizi
Most Recent Cabaret Show: An Evening with Ben Vereen and the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble. I performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I loved playing there.
Website or Social Media Handles: www.benvereen.info
facebook.com/theBenVereen Instagram is @BenVereen Twitter is @BenVereen
Ben Vereen, thank you so much for chatting with Broadway World today! I am delighted that you are with us. How is life for you and your family during this madness?
I try to stay sane and not get hung up in the madness. Everyone in my family is safe and healthy.
You are well-known and well-observed as one of the most optimistic people in the business - to what do you attribute your positive outlook?
I believe in a power greater than myself which is within us all.
Your show STEPPIN' OUT WITH Ben Vereen was recently broadcast, via recording, on the 54 Below Youtube Channel - if we are under quarantine for a good deal longer, will you become one of the artists performing via live streaming platforms?
As a matter of fact, I am hosting/performing at a fundraiser for Care for the Homeless on June 18th - it's the only NYC based organization that gives free medical care to all homeless people - Virtual Vereen and Friends Gala. I also worked with my favorite, Frank DiLella, on a fundraiser for the Actors Fund. Rosie O'Donnell and I will be singing for Scott Schwartz at his gala for Bay Street in the Hamptons, and I just was asked to do something for the Tony Awards, virtually of course.
As one of the greatest dancers of all time, how have you seen the life of The Dancer change over the years?
I see aerobics instead of dancing; I would love to see dance return to dance. However, keep dance alive, especially now.
What have been the quarantine essentials at the House of Vereen these last two months?
Love, love, and more love.
You are very active with many different charities - what inspires you in your choice of charities to support?
Somebody gave to me and now it is my turn to give it back.
Are you using this imposed downtime to work on your proposed memoir?
You are an actor who has never stopped working - would you say your tenacity is the result of nature or nurture?
Both; nature gives me insight, and I am nurtured by those I love and who love me.
You are a teacher, a mentor, a motivator, and a Spiritual Enforcer - what has it looked like, playing these important roles in the lives of others?
As Kahil Gibran says and I paraphrase: Be THE light in a dark place. Encourage the youth, the elderly. For it is the youth who give us strength and the elderly who show us the way.
Ben Vereen, you are a gentleman and an inspiration. Thank you for the visit today!