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Ben Vereen Stays In Step

The Tony Award-winning star talks about his solo concert and CD, his plan to return to Broadway, and working on How I Met Your Mother. logo
Ben Vereen
Tony Award winner Ben Vereen has thrilled audiences on the Great White Way for four decades, from his Tony Award-winning work in Pippin through such shows as Wicked, Fosse, Chicago and I'm Not Rappaport. Right now, he's in the midst of national tour of a one-man show, An Evening with Ben Vereen, which plays New York City's Town Hall on Friday, February 18 -- and which celebrates the February 15 release of his new CD, Stepping Out With Ben Vereen., which was recorded live in Hartford last summer. TheaterMania spoke with Vereen about his Town Hall debut and the many other projects that keep him busy.

THEATERMANIA: How much do you love performing this show?
BEN VEREEN: I would perform it in your living room if you'd hire us! We performed it with symphonies, and at various venues. We will be in Canada, Kansas, New Jersey, and the Carolinas this year.

TM: What can fans expect from the concert?
BV: It is a retrospective of my life in the theater and the legends I've met. I will combine a tribute to Broadway, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

TM: What songs will you be performing?
BV: A lot of great ones like "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "Defying Gravity." We will see what the night brings.

TM: What does Broadway mean to you?
BV: It is an interesting thing. I never realized how much Broadway was in my blood until I arrived there.

TM: Would you consider returning to the Great White Way?
BV: In a heartbeat. There's a play we are working on called Fetch Clay, Make Man, directed by Des McAnuff. It's about Muhammad Ali and Stepin Fetchit. We performed it at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, and we had hoped to bring it to Broadway in the fall. We are still working on it.

TM: You are helping to launch Take the Stage for Diabetes Awareness, a national awareness campaign designed to educate people who are diabetic. Can you talk to us about your involvement?
BV: I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. I went to the doctor after passing out a few times and I also had dry mouth. I said, If I can understand the disease, everyone can. So, I reached out to Sanofi-aventis and we created S.T.A.N.D. -- Start Taking Action Now for Diabetes. Please understand: diabetes is not a death sentence. You have to find out what's right for you. You can live with diabetes. When your doctor tells you that your blood sugar levels are high, ask, how high?

TM: You also have a recurring role on CBS' How I Met Your Mother. How did that come about?
BV: Wayne Brady is on the show and he is a good friend of mine. I am also a big fan of Wayne. They wanted him to have a father, so they called me. I love the cast. I'm having a ball.

TM: With you, Wayne Brady, and Neil Patrick Harris, will there be a musical production number at some point?
BV: I'm not allowed to say, but I think so. They certainly have the talent to do a musical production.

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