Stage and screen star Ben Vereen celebrates Black History month with performance, public events at Norton Center for the Arts

Posted by Centre News in News, Norton Center 13 Feb 2017

Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts welcomes legendary stage and screen actor Ben Vereen to Newlin Hall for two days of free activities in celebration of Black History month that will culminate with a public performance of Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. Filled with song and dance, stories of his life and a great deal of humor, the production brings together excerpts and memories from the award-winning performer’s long history in show business.

Currently touring throughout the United States, Vereen’s show is dazzling audiences with a unique blend of artistry, combining a tribute to Broadway, Frank Sinatra and a very special tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. Featuring songs such as “Defying Gravity,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “For Good” from Wicked and “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” the production is a contemporary and timeless journey through the Broadway songbook.

“It is an honor for such a world-renowned entertainer to accept our invitation to perform at the Norton Center,” says Executive Director Steve Hoffman. “Ben Vereen’s name is synonymous with Broadway, drama, the American Songbook and comedy. His powerful personal story is one that we can all learn from and his positive and motivating personality is infectious both on and off stage.”

Few entertainers today are as accomplished or versatile as Vereen. His legendary performances transcend time and have been woven into the fabric of this country’s artistic legacy.

A Broadway icon, Vereen has a long and successful record of stage performances, including starring roles in Wicked, Fosse, I’m Not Rappaport, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Grind, Jelly’s Last Jam and A Christmas Carol. His role in Pippin garnered him both the prestigious Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for “Best Actor in a Musical.”

Vereen says his first love and passion is and always will be the stage, explaining that the theater was his training ground. “It taught me discipline, dedication and appreciation of hard work and values that will stay with me a lifetime. The stage sharpens the creative instrument and encourages you to go deeper inside and try new things.”

Read more about Ben Vereen.

Tickets for Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen are available at NortonCenter.com or by calling the box office at 1-877-HIT-SHOW. This performance is sponsored by The Centre College Diversity Office. Media support has been provided by 107.9 The Beat.

FREE PUBLIC EVENTS
Friday, Feb. 17
The public is invited to join Ben Vereen for the following activities:

Race in the Entertainment Industry
10:20 a.m. | Newlin Hall  | FREE

In recognition of Black History Month, Vereen will share details of his life as an African-American performer. From being featured in the TV series “Roots” to originating historically black roles on Broadway and film, the audience will gain valuable insights into one actor’s life and struggles over the past half century.

From Blackface to Defying Gravity: The Ever-Evolving Life of Ben Vereen
7 p.m.  | Newlin Hall | FREE

Aside from Vereen’s numerous stage and screen credits, he has performed at a presidential inauguration, endured the loss of his 16-year-old daughter, suffered his own physical impairments and struggled with addiction.  His successful comeback as a performer, earning roles in numerous movies and television shows still today, demonstrates his colorful, ever-evolving and remarkable journey through life. This is Ben Vereen’s story, in his own words.

by Norton Center for the Arts
February 13, 2017