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Pippin (Original Cast)

A singer, dancer, and actor known for his dramatic performances in theater, Ben Vereen has performed on television, in films, and on stage. Born in Miami in 1946, Vereen credits most of his success to his mother. His father worked in a paint factory while his mother worked as a maid. His mother was born in Louisiana and would recount how the blues singers and jazz musicians would entertain the workers during lunch breaks on the plantation. His mother would sing the blues as she reminisced about the past, thus Ben Vereen's interest in music was born. His first performance was a solo at the age of four in the Baptist church where his father was the deacon. Later, he joined a quartet at the church, a group that had women weeping in the aisles during their performances. It was these performances that led Vereen to believe he had a calling to be a singer. After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts with no openings in dance or theater, Vereen entered the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. After six months he realized he was not to be a seminarian and again pursued his theatrical career.

At the age of 18 Vereen made his New York debut in Prodigal Son. In 1969 he joined the cast of Hair and eventually played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, a role that earned him the Theatre World Award. He went on to perform in Pippin, earning a Tony Award. His film credits include Funny Lady and All That Jazz. Besides his unforgettable stage and screen performances, Vereen has also used his talents on television. He won an Emmy Award for his 1978 TV special Ben Vereen... His Roots. During the '80s he made appearances on several TV series including Webster and the talent contests You Write the Songs and Your Momma Don't Dance. In the sitcom Webster he played Webster's (Emmanuel Lewis) uncle, and frequently danced and sang on the show. In the late '80s Vereen was emotionally drained after the death of his daughter, and contemplated suicide. After receiving help for his emotional problems, he bounced back, performing once again on Broadway in Jelly's Last Jam and on television in the USA series Silk Stalkings. Despite the many obstacles in his career, Ben Vereen has achieved success as a performer, singer, and actor, receiving both the American Guild of Variety Artists' George M. Cohen Award and the NAACP's Image Award. ~ Kim Summers, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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For me, it is kind of odd hearing a man sing the leading player. I only know the new version, which seems to have more spirit and energy because of the whole circus element and the speed of some of the songs
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I feel like the new version of Pippin better as well even though I first saw Pippin through the new production. I love the whole circus aspect of the new one
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If you're a fan of Fresh Prince, Vereen played will's father in one episode, and it's arguably the best episode in the series.
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I feel biased saying this, but I like the new version better. It has more energy and attitude.
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I was in NY for a college business field trip in '73 and we were to see a show I'd never heard of while there. It turned out to be Pippin when Irene Ryan was still with the cast among the many others. I absolutely floated out of the theater from the cloud I was on and I've been in love with the show and it's music ever since.
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jadams9125
I agree...the original soundtrack is the best! I plan to have In Just No Time At All played at my wake!
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I saw Pippin 2x. Most recently was on 7/5/2014 in NYC. The new production was definitely high energy and lots of acrobatic actions. The staging was not the same in comparison between the earlier production that I saw. The broadway production feat Annie Potts was awesome. The two productions gave different approach in staging which gave a unique taste to the audience. I like them both. Go see it and see it for yourself. The revival on broadway definitely gave a new prospective.
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the revival is good but the original which I saw in saw in 1974 when I was in middle was astounding-- a n d everybody's mom and dad had this album-I still have my copy........ . . . . .
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This musical is amazing and everyone should try to see it while its on broadway which hopefully will be a very long time
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This is a great play!!

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