When Broadway's Fosse welcomes Ben Vereen to the company Jan. 26 for 10 weeks, he'll take over some of the material traditionally played by the show's "leading player" character, who sings "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" and "Bye Bye Blackbird."
The role is now filled by Stephanie Pope, who leaves the troupe Jan. 21. According to a spokesman, Vereen is in the lead role, but the track has been modified to include "Dancin' Dan," "Razzle Dazzle," "Mr. Bojangles" and "Manson Trio," which he famously danced in Bob Fosse's Pippin.
Vereen, who won a Tony Award as the Leading Player in Fosse's staging of Pippin and had a featured part in Fosse's autobiographical film, "All That Jazz," will stay with the company through April 1, during the period when Broadway shows see a slump in sales due to cold weather. Vereen's presence at the Broadhurst Theatre is likely to heat up the already warm box office for the revue, which won the 1999 Best Musical Tony Award.
Vereen heads a cast of 32 dancers, featuring Eugene Fleming, Dana Moore, Elizabeth Parkinson, Keith Roberts and Scott Wise, all performing 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 is not being interpolated into Fosse for his tenure. He 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.