Magic to Do: Ben Vereen Working On Stage Musical About His Life

News   Magic to Do: Ben Vereen Working On Stage Musical About His Life Ben Vereen is collaborating on a new musical about his own life and times, the Tony Award-winning actor told Playbill On-Line.

Ben Vereen is collaborating on a new musical about his own life and times, the Tony Award-winning actor told Playbill On-Line.

The musical project is in development with Clear Channel and is being penned and directed by Joe Calarco, who created Shakespeare's R & J and has directed regionally.

"It's pretty much about my life, segments of my life done to music," Vereen said Sept. 6, two days before the scheduled close of Broadway's I'm Not Rappaport, in which he co-stars. "It'll be a full-cast musical. There will be original music and music I've done through the years."

He expects the tentatively-titled Ben Vereen, the Musical to be developed in the regions rather than come right into New York, but as of yet there is no timetable and there have been no readings.

"We're still in the writing stages of it," he explained. "We're looking for a musical person to come aboard and we're listening to some very talented young men. Once that's in place, we take it to [Clear Channel] and they have their final say and then we go dancing off to the studios." Vereen said he can't wait to do a musical again, but he was also thrilled to play the Broadway revival of I'm Not Rappaport, which represented his non-musical stage debut.

"I had to go this route, I had to feel what it was like to act on stage with someone like Judd Hirsch and the director, Dan Sullivan," Vereen said. "It's stretching new muscles."

Vereen, 55, said he would also love to act in a dramatic play in the future, in contrast to the lighter Rappaport.

Vereen's return to the limelight after being struck by a car is viewed as a showbiz miracle story. Following years of recovery after the accident, he stepped into the musical, Fosse, to dance steps created by one of his showbiz mentors, the late Bob Fosse. He's also been giving lectures and singing concerts in recent years.

Vereen won the 1973 Tony Award starring in Fosse's Pippin, and is remembered for his work in the Fosse film, "All That Jazz." He was also Tony-nommed for playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar

— By Kenneth Jones