Ben Vereen Aiming Solo Show for Broadway With New Material By Stephen Schwartz

News   Ben Vereen Aiming Solo Show for Broadway With New Material By Stephen Schwartz
 
Tony Award-winning entertainer Ben Vereen is developing a new one-man show for Broadway, which he hopes to bring to the stage in early 2016.

Ben Vereen
Ben Vereen

The veteran Broadway and film star, who plays 54 Below through March 21, told Playbill.com that he's collaborating with Joe Calarco to shape the show. "We are interviewing directors now," Vereen told Playbill.com. "It's exciting. It's loosely based on the show I'm doing at 54 Below, but this one will be more in-depth. It will be a celebration."

The team is working swiftly to ready the show, he said. "We are trying to put it on the fast track and hoping to have it in by the beginning of next year. It's been a long-time coming."

Vereen is also reuniting with Pippin and Wicked composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who is writing special musical material for the show. "I think he's one of our greatest American composers and lyricists. I just love the way Stephen writes," he added.

After playing the intimate 54 Below and connecting with audiences there, Vereen said his Broadway outing will be a chance for him to give back. "I believe it's time that the entertainer says thank you to the public. I say in my show, 'We have to stand up for the arts. We have to let the coming generations know that we were here.' How do we do that? Through our art."

With a career that includes his Tony-nominated performance in Jesus Christ Superstar and his Tony-winning turn in Pippin, which helped usher in the rock and pop sound to Broadway, Vereen also took a moment to single out Lin-Manuel Miranda's work on Hamilton. "Oh my God! He's taken hip-hop with Hamilton and made it understandable. You gravitate to the story, and you understand every word and every emotion. It's so well done. I'm really impressed with him. Sometimes with hip-hop I have to lean in real hard to hear it," he laughed. "You know, I'm an elder now. But with that show. It's brilliant. I love that man's work."

Before parting, Vereen also had a word for his pal Chita Rivera, who is back on Broadway this spring. "My darling! I can't wait for The Visit! I love this woman so much. She's such a genius of a woman. In my next life I'm going to marry Chita Rivera!" he quipped. "And you can quote me on that!"

See Vereen at 54 Below.

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