Ben Vereen: I Get A Chance To Play With The Kids - New York News

Ben Vereen: I Get A Chance To Play With The Kids

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Ben Vereen is very excited about his latest project. He plays the genie in "Aladdin and his Winter Wish" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Ben told Steve and Maria this isn't serious theater. In fact, he's wearing part of his genie outfit during his interview.

"This is a fun show...it's audience participation, it's for the kids. Come out to have fun. This is totally about the fun. We've got pop music in there, I sing some Earth, Wind, and Fire...I get to do a rap."

Yes. Ben Vereen raps and he gives Steve and Maria a "taste" of those skills on the air. He also explains why this play is a lot different than a movie or TV show.

"We are living in a live environment. We are live people and so we can feel the exchange and the spirit go back and forth, there's nothing like it."

Ben also talks about how the holidays should remind everyone about what's really important.

"We as a people have gotten into the materialism of Christmas and it's not about that, it's about the love and the giving, giving of yourself and your heart...Come out and find the child inside yourself."

"Aladdin and his Winter Wish" runs from December 11th through the 29th at the Pasadena Playhouse. For tickets and showtimes, go to www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

Fun facts about Ben Vereen (Source: Wikipedia)

1.) He was adopted by James Vereen, a paint-factory worker and his wife, Pauline, who worked as a maid. He discovered he was adopted when he applied for a passport to join Sammy Davis, Jr. on a tour of "Golden Boy" to London when he was 25.

2.) During his pre-teen years, he exhibited an innate talent for drama and dance and often performed in local variety shows. At the age of 14, Vereen enrolled at the High School of Performing Arts, where he studied under world-renowned choreographers Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Upon his graduation, he struggled to find suitable stage work and was often forced to take odd jobs to supplement his income. He was 18 years old when he made his New York stage bow off-off Broadway in The Prodigal Son at the Greenwich Mews Theater. By the following year, he was in Las Vegas, performing in Bob Fosse's production of Sweet Charity, a show with which he toured in 1967–68. He returned to New York City to play Claude in Hair in the Broadway production, before joining the national touring company.

3.) The following year, he was cast opposite Davis in the film adaptation of Sweet Charity. After developing a rapport with Davis, Vereen was cast as his understudy in the upcoming production of Golden Boy, which toured England and ended the run at the Palladium Theatre in London's West End.

‘Aladdin And His Winter Wish' plays December 11th through the 29th at the Pasadena Playhouse.

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