Ben Vereen steps out with Transcendence

Tony Award winner Ben Vereen will be part of the 2014 Transcendence Artist Series with his one-man show, “Steppin’ Out with Ben Vereen,” Saturday, Aug. 9, in the open-air Winery Ruins in Jack London State Historic Park.

The series of summer concerts is produced by the Transcendence Theatre Company, now home-based in Sonoma County, with a revolutionary agenda to use musical theater as a vehicle for transformation and positive social change. Most of the performances are presented in the park’s winery ruins with a portion of proceeds donated to underwrite park expenses.

Vereen’s one-man “Steppin’ Out” performance has been hailed around the world, with critics noting that despite two knee surgeries, the 67-year-old singer-dancer-actor still doesn’t miss a step.

Vereen has established ownership of several iconic Broadway roles, including Judas Iscariot in “Jesus Christ Superstar” (for which he received a Tony nomination) and as the lead in “Pippin,” for which he won the Tony and the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

He also received an Emmy nomination for his role as Chicken George in the TV miniseries, “Roots,” and has appeared in countless other television series and episodes.

Vereen’s “Steppin’ Out” show combines a tribute to Broadway, Frank Sinatra and a special tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. who helped father Vereens career.

Writing about the show, The New York Times called Vereen “an old-school song and dance man who never lets up. He wins you over with his sheer energy, good will and showbiz know-how.”

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. His first love and passion is and always will be the stage.

“The theater was my first 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,” Vereen said.

In announcing Vereen’s appearance, Transcendence co-founder and Artistic Director Amy Miller said, “We are thrilled beyond belief to share the magic of Ben Vereen with our audiences. Mr. Vereen is a legendary and inspiring force of nature. Beyond our admiration for his extraordinary talents, we know he shares the spirit of our company and the life changing experiences we look to create.”

Similar to Transcendence Theatre’s “Broadway Under The Stars” concerts, the evening will begin with preshow picnicking on the great lawn of the park, starting at 5 p.m., with food and wine available for purchase. The performance itself will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The 2014 Transcendence Artist Series is composed of 5 separate themed concerts with the additional concerts scheduled to be announced soon. In addition to the Transcendence Artist Series, Transcendence produces the “Broadway Under The Stars” in Jack London State Park concert series running from June 27 to Sept. 6.

Transcendence Theatre was named Broadway World San Francisco’s 2013 “Theatre of the Year.” Over the last two seasons the company has given over $72,000 to Jack London State Historic Park, while winning the Broadway World San Francisco award for Best Special Theater Event in both of its first two seasons.

Tickets for “Steppin’ Out With Ben Vereen” are $42 to $125 and are in limited quantity. To purchase tickets, visit TTCsonoma.org or call 877-424-1414.