Master Class With Tony Award-Winner Ben Vereen

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Ben Vereen. Isak Tiner photo.

Bay Street Theater will host “Master Class with Ben Vereen,” a one-day online acting class led by Ben Vereen, on Monday, November 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. via Zoom. This is an exclusive opportunity to work with a Tony Award-winning master, and is available to just 12 students, whom Vereen will guide through the craft of character acting and interpretation.

“Authenticity” is the key word to describe Vereen’s master class: to be, as opposed to becoming the character. Vereen not only brings his amazing talent as an actor and entertainer to the course, but also his knowledge of taking the content and bringing it into another dimension of interpretation. Within a two-hour time frame, he 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 participant’s performance, Vereen will lead a question-and-answer session that involves the other students.

Few entertainers today are as accomplished as Vereen. He won a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award in the 1972 Broadway debut of “Pippin,” has 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. He is best known for films “Sweet Charity” and “All That Jazz.” He has appeared in many television shows and portrayed Chicken George in the groundbreaking mini-series “Roots.” He is now working on his new Broadway musical, “Reflections,” to be directed by Josh Bergasse and with music by Stephen Schwartz, and the television pilot “Midas,” where everything he touches does turn 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 defending the National Endowment for the Arts against the 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.

Registration for “Master Class with Ben Vereen” is open to adults ages 18 and up for $99. Prior experience in the performing arts is required. Participants should prepare a monologue of no longer than 90 seconds, or 16 bars of song with an accompaniment track. For more information, contact Bay Street’s director of education and community outreach, Allen O’Reilly, at allen@baystreet.org.

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