Just about two weeks ago television and Broadway actor, Ben Vereen, celebrated his birthday!
Back in 1995 or 1996, I saw Ben Vereen play Scrooge in Madison Square Garden’s The Christmas Carol musical! (Did you know Alan Menken did the music for this?) I remember being really excited… which is surprising because based on my research I must have known Ben from his cameo on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Will’s biological dad. (It was such an emotional episode if you remember it.)
A few months ago when James and I finally made it to Ben’s episode on The Muppet Show, I was totally blown away by his all-out dance performances and just how game he was to have a grand old time with the Muppets.
I also had no idea he played a few of my favorite roles on Broadway back in the 60s and 70s: Hud and Claude in Hair and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Oh, I would have loved to see those.
In The Muppet Show episode that gave much attention to Crazy Harry, Ben sings Mr. Cellophane from the musical Chicago.
The entire makeup of this skit is beyond genius, and Vereen is amazing with his choreography.
Crazy to think that Chicago was only about a year or so old on Broadway when Vereen shimmied down this Muppet street. Over on Broadway, the revival has been hopping with revolving celebrity stars since 1996.
One star was Vereen himself! He played Billy Flynn in 1999… which is funny because, if you remember, “Mr. Cellophane” was actually Amos’ song.
For more info on Ben, check out his snazzy website!