It’s a Celebration! Ben Vereen Discusses Bringing Steppin’ Out Back to NYC This Thanksgiving
1. What makes this show different than any other you’ve done before it?
The people. When I teach, I tell my young people, each night is an opening night. I call this my gratitude show. I sing songs that you know from Pippin or Jesus Christ Superstar, but also songs that have touched our lives together. It’s a celebration of life. We have to support the arts now—it is our life.
2. So with a set list so close to your heart, which song feels most sentimental to you?
Secretly they all do. They all come from a personal place. I love “What a Wonderful World” and “Both Sides Now”. Joni Mitchell’s song teaches us about life and how to look at life and how we have to realize that we don’t really know life. I hope these songs resonate with my audiences.
3. What’s a song audiences might be surprised to hear you are performing?
I go from Jacques Brel to Stevie Wonder. One extreme to the other. It’s a celebration. For the holiday show in December, I have the opportunity to thank the people of Ridgefield for standing by me and giving me this opportunity. For that, I get to sing some songs in Hebrew, as well as my Christmas songs.
4. You have such a joyful energy and presence onstage. Tell me, what’s your pre-show for a concert? What happens from when you arrive at a venue to taking the stage?
When I first get to the theatre, I have a ritual I do. I usually go to the stage and thank the empty seats. It’s something I do personally. I like to prepare the room before people get there. I’m a very spiritual person and I believe the spirit is everything in life and the only thing that’s going to get us through. So, I like to clear the area and welcome the spirit into the room, so the audience enters into a high-energy vibration. When I go back, I do my warm-up, we do a circle of prayer, and then we come out and give it to the audience.
Spend your Thanksgiving holiday with Ben Vereen in at The Cutting Room.