CLAYTON Ben Vereen calls his Steppin Out Live show a smorgasbord. Based on his expansive career, he has a lot to serve up.
The actor, dancer and singer will dish out a variety of music tonight at the Clayton Opera House as he looks back on his career.
Among his Broadway credits, Mr. Vereen, 66, has starred in Wicked, Fosse, Im Not Rappaport, Hair, Jellys Last Jam and Jesus Christ Superstar. His role as Leading Player in Pippin garnered him a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for best actor in a musical.
His most famous television role was Chicken George in Roots. He also has played Louis Armstrong in the TV movie Louis Armstrong Chicago Style. Other television credits range from Greys Anatomy to recent and upcoming appearances on How I Met Your Mother.
Film credits for Mr. Vereen include Sweet Charity, All That Jazz, And Then Came Love and The Painting. Youll be able to hear Mr. Vereens voice later this year in the animated movie Khumba, about a half-striped zebra.
For more than 35 years, Mr. Vereen has showcased his versatility in person by performing one-man shows in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Vereen, who was born in Florida but grew up in Brooklyn, was asked if he had a favorite component of his entertainment smorgasbord.
Yes, he said, laughing. I call it employment.
But turning to his live show, he said it has a particular focus.
It all settles upon the same thing: gratitude.
Mr. Vereen is thankful that people come to his concerts by the scores.
I love what I do and Im blessed to be able to do what I do, he said. Ive never been in this region of the United States, he said, referring his trip to Clayton. People are coming out to see me and theyre the ones who continue to allow me to do what I do. My show is really a thank-you to them. Its inspiring. And well inspire each other.
His show, he said, is also a thank-you to all the people Ive had the opportunity to work with and people Ive helped along the way.
His Steppin Out songs include tunes from Broadway, songs made famous by Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, as well as personal songs.
He will perform with a band: Mike Boone on bass, David Loeb on keyboard and Mark Dicciani on drums.
Mr. Vereen said he is writing a biography and a Broadway show.
Its based upon pretty much what you will see (in Clayton), he said of his Broadway show. Its a one-man show, but broader scope, allowing more time for monologues and for me to delve into the wonderful things lived through.