Bay Street Theater Offers a Master Class with Ben Vereen

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Ben Vereen. Isak Tiner photo.

Bay Street Theater will host an eight-part online Master Class in acting led by Tony Award-winner Ben Vereen starting Monday, January 25, via Zoom. This is an opportunity to work with a Tony Award-winning performer who will guide participants through monologue and song preparation. Classes will meet Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. through March 15. Registration is $500 and the class is open to adults ages 18 and up. Prior experience in the performing arts is required. Participants should prepare no longer than 90 seconds of a Broadway song with an accompaniment track, or a monologue of the same length. For more information, contact Bay Street’s Director of Education & Community Outreach, Allen O’Reilly, at allen@baystreet.org.

“Authenticity” is the key word to describe Vereen’s master class: to be, as opposed to becoming the character. Within a two-hour time frame, Vereen will work with students on either a portion of a song or a monologue of their choice, breaking down the form and language, before circling back with an individual sense of style and self-confidence. Following each person’s performance, Vereen will lead a question-and-answer session that involves the other students.

Vereen won a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for his performance in the 1972 Broadway debut of “Pippin.” He has also starred in such musicals as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Fosse,” “Hair,” “Jelly’s Last Jam,” “Chicago,” “Wicked” and “I’m Not Rappaport,” to name a few. On screen, he is best known for films “Sweet Charity” and “All That Jazz,” and the role of Chicken George in the TV mini-series “Roots.” He was a series regular on “Sneaky Pete” for Amazon alongside Bryan Cranston, appeared in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” co-starred with Richard Gere in “Time Out Of Mind,” and appeared alongside Chris Rock in “Top Five.” He will also star in the upcoming television pilot “Midas,” where everything he touches turns to gold. He continues to give motivational speeches around the country.

Vereen is a member of Americans for the Arts. He has spoken before Congress to defend the National Endowment for the Arts against proposed budget cuts. In June 2020, he produced a virtual fundraising event, “Virtual Vereen and Friends,: to benefit Care For the Homeless, a nonprofit that provides free medical and mental health care, shelters, and low income housing for the homeless. He is the ambassador to Broadway in the Hood, which provides arts and education for inner-city kids.

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