Ben Vereen Returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below!

Ben Vereen Returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below!

Ben Vereen (©Isak Tiner)

Tony Award-winning actor and consummate showman Ben Vereen is coming back to Feinstein’s/54 Below with his critically acclaimed one-man concert, “Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen.”

I recently spoke with Mr. Vereen about his return to NYC and why he loves performing this show. He calls “Steppin Out” his “gratitude tour,” saying that this show gives him a chance to have a dialogue with his audience. His set list—which includes everything from show-stopping showtunes to tender ballads from Joni Mitchell to swoon-worthy Frank Sinatra songs—is curated with care. Mr. Vereen sings the songs that touch his heart and uses their lyrics to have a conversation with the audience. “Be in that moment,” he told me. But also have fun. He stressed that it’s important to have fun during times like these.

We spoke about this election season and how stressful it’s been, but that music and the performing arts are a way to take a break from it, if even for a little while. Mr. Vereen, like many of us, is a fan of the “Hamilton” musical and its writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and often quotes the lyric, “History has its eyes on you.”

“History is watching what decisions we make today,” Mr. Vereen said. “Our children will respond to this history.” Later he told me that every morning you wake up is something to be thankful for. “You have the opportunity to make things better. What you do with your day is a choice. You can choose to make what is not good, good.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Vereen’s daily choices have been great, and revolve around entertaining others, myself included—and we are all the luckier for it. Most recently, he played Dr. Scott in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” that aired on Fox in October. Personally, I got an epic kick out of seeing Mr. Vereen performing in a medium I was most familiar with him in. (As a child of the 1980s, I very vividly remember watching him as Mayor Ben on the hit children’s television series, “Zoobilee Zoo” and confessed to him that the theme song has been stuck in my head ever since.)

Theater fans know Mr. Vereen from his masterful work in some of the most popular musicals of all time. His first Tony nomination (1972, Best Featured Actor in a Musical) came when he portrayed Judas Iscariot in the original Broadway cast of “Jesus Christ Superster.” He won a Tony the following year for originating the role of Leading Player in the Stephen Schwartz-penned “Pippin” (1973, Best Actor in a Musical). Mr. Vereen would later go on to appear in another Schwartz show, “Wicked” (2005-2006), as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Mr. Vereen has incorporated several of Schwartz’s songs into “Steppin’ Out” because he feels that Schwartz has an unparalleled knack for songwriting. In addition to tunes his characters sang, Mr. Vereen takes on showstoppers his co-stars performed, including “Corner of the Sky” and “Defying Gravity.”

While Mr. Vereen” has his sights set on Broadway with “Steppin’ Out,” he is glad to be back at Feinstein’s/54 Below because of the intimacy of the venue, not to mention that Feinstein—as in Michael Feinstein of the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein—is a close friend. “We’re buddies!” Mr. Vereen told me, “Michael Feinstein is talented and funny and my buddy.” With his charm, humor and compassion, being buddies with Mr. Vereen is an enviable designation.

NYC is grateful to have Mr. Vereen back to Feinstein’s/54 Below for a string of performances during the week of Thanksgiving. He shared that his family and friends will be coming to town to celebrate with him and that he is looking forward sharing “Steppin’ Out” with audiences. Whether this is your first or 15th time seeing Mr. Vereen on stage, it will be a night you never forget.

Check out “Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen” at Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 W. 54th St. Cellar, btw Broadway & Eighth Ave.; 646.476.3551).

Mon., Nov. 21: 7 pm (doors open at 5:15 pm)

Wed., Nov. 23: 7 pm (doors open at 5:15 pm)

Thur., Nov. 24: 8 pm (doors open at 4 pm)

Fri., Nov. 25: 7 pm (doors open at 5:15 pm)

Sat., Nov. 26: 7 pm (doors open at 5:15 pm)

Get your tickets here. VIP and Premium seating is available. Use the code BENV15 to save 15% on Main Dining Room seats. $25 Food & Beverage Minimum. Nov. 24 performance will have an $85 Thanksgiving prix fixe meal.

A man of many talents, see "Steppin' Out with Ben Vereen" this November at Feinstein's/54 Below (©Isak Tiner)

Comments

It doesn't get better than this warm and beautifully uplifting show! It's truly a way to have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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