Posts tagged black broadway actor

Ahead of His Time: Ben Vereen Reflects on Broadway’s Place in Black History

When Ben Vereen auditioned for “Pippin,” the burgeoning Broadway star never thought he would get the part.

But not only did he nail the audition — in front of the original production’s director, Bob Fosse, no less — his performance as the Leading Player would win him the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1973.

At the behest of Bay Street Theater Artistic Director Scott Schwartz — whose father, Stephen Schwartz, wrote the music and lyrics of “Pippin” — Vereen has reprised the role for the Sag Harbor venue’s virtual gala, “A Starry Night,” a celebration of 1970s Broadway musicals on Wednesday, July 22, at 8 p.m., featuring performances by luminary figures of the performing arts.

Ahead of the gala, Vereen caught up with The Express News Group, reflecting on his 55-year career, the current civil rights movement and its place in the theater.

“Every war, every conflict we’ve ever had, the arts has been the thing that has brought us through,” the 73-year-old Broadway veteran said from his home in Florida. “Because the arts is spiritual. The arts has no color… It is an expression of the most high. And the conflicts of the human race, we can reflect back on our races and say, ‘This has to be changed, and this is what you need to know about the joy of your journey.’”

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