"An Evening with Ben Vereen"

March 3, 2010

March 7
Carmel High School

I had my first encounter with Ben Vereen—as did many of my generation—through the landmark television series “Roots,” where he memorably played Chicken George. I then was knocked out by his portrayal of Death as a song and dance man in Bob Fosse’s painfully brilliant autobiographical film “All That Jazz.” But there’s nothing like seeing Vereen live, which I had the pleasure of doing when he was touring in a revival of “Pippin,” the show that made him a Broadway star.

What I remember most about that performance is that—after the curtain calls, after many audience members had bolted for their cars—the appreciative-of-those-who-stayed Vereen said something to the effect of, “I really enjoy this show, but I really don’t get to do everything I want to do,” and invited those remaining to stick around as he performed about a half hour of his nightclub act. Not only was it very entertaining, but it was the best example I’ve seen of a guy unselfishly sharing his talents above and beyond expectations.

Vereen will be here on Sunday singing, dancing and sharing stories in a benefit for the Carmel Community Players. If you aren’t caught up in Oscar-mania, consider going. Details here.