Ben Vereen's "Glory" in Broadway's Fosse Ends April 1

News   Ben Vereen's "Glory" in Broadway's Fosse Ends April 1 Ben Vereen, the actor-dancer-singer who is part of "the Fosse family" of dancers, as Ann Reinking put it, struts out of Broadway's Fosse following his special-guest run, which began Jan. 26.

Ben Vereen, the actor-dancer-singer who is part of "the Fosse family" of dancers, as Ann Reinking put it, struts out of Broadway's Fosse following his special-guest run, which began Jan. 26.

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. Reinking, who co-create the Tony Award-winning Fosse, joined Vereen in the show beginning March 2, performing "Dancin' Dan" ("Me and My Shadow") together. It was generally thought that Vereen brought some focus and personality to a show that has been ensemble-oriented since it debuted on Broadway in January 1999.

"I thought he was terribly funny in 'Dancin' Dan,'" Reinking 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!"

Audiences ate up Reinking and Vereen doing a vaudeville turn in the "Dancin' Dan" duet. "I have to stay very very alert because I'm not sure exactly what he's going to do every night," Reinking said during her run with Vereen. "It's really fun. It's always within the framework of the piece, but you just never know. The other night he was just talking all through the number and cracking up the audience and hitting every step. I said, 'You are so very chatty!' He brings things out in me and other dancers."

Reinking was to announced to stay with the show only to April 1, but is sticking around to April 29, to dance with Bebe Neuwirth in the flexible Fosse. Neuwrith joins the company April 2.

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Vereen headed a cast of 32 dancers, featuring Eugene Fleming, Dana Moore, Elizabeth Parkinson, Keith Roberts and Scott Wise, 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.

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