Vereen was the first star name to play in the Tony Award winning revue, which was conceived as an group piece rather than a star vehicle. Critics and audiences observed that when Vereen stepped into the show Jan. 26, he brought some focus and personality to a hit that has been ensemble-oriented since it debuted on Broadway in January 1999.
Vereen, who won a Tony Award in director-choreographer Bob Fosse's Pippin and sang and danced in Fosse's film, "All That Jazz," recreated the "Glory" and "Manson Trio" numbers from Pippin in Fosse earlier this year, and recreates the work for the summer.
"I thought he was terribly funny in [Fosse's] 'Dancin' Dan,'" Reinking previously told Playbill On-Line. "Every time he did it, it would crack me up. He did bring his own wonderful element to the show, a real variety and another level. Another taste. Another feel. That's very important when you're doing an ensemble piece, that you give it a variety of levels so it doesn't get too homogenous."
Reinking continued, "There's just somethin' in him and that's what Bob recognized. Once a star... No matter what, there's something there, they give you something that's special. He's somebody who innately had something, a real gift. To see that gift nurtured by Bob and then by Gwen [Verdon], it's wonderful. It does give the show something. Showmanship!" Reinking and Bebe Neuwirth also stepped into the show earlier this year. Neuwirth left the show May 27.
Vereen head a cast of 32 dancers, all performing late director choreographer Fosse's great — and lesser-known — musical numbers from his stage, film and television hits.
In Pippin, Vereen sang "Magic to Do," a kind of signature song for the actor-dancer, but the tune was not being interpolated into Fosse for his tenure (though there was talk of it). Vereen recently played Billy Flynn (singing "Razzle Dazzle") in the Fosse-style revival of Chicago, in Las Vegas. The actor-dancer made headlines when he survived a near-fatal accident and went on to appear in Broadway's Jelly's Last Jam. He also appeared in Broadway's original Jesus Christ Superstar and Grind, and the Madison Square Garden production of A Christmas Carol. His official website is at www.BenVereen.com.
Tickets are $35-$85. The Broadhurst is at 235 W. 44th Street. For ticket information, call (212) 582-1200.