Ben Vereen is a no stranger to the San Diego stage, or really, any stage, as he is a Tony Award winning icon who has performed around the world. His travels bring him back to San Diego on January, Thursday 12th to perform his tour de force show with his three-piece ensemble and the Westview Young People’s Orchestra consisting of members from our very own Poway community at the Poway Performing Arts Center!
This show has some very special performers as kids in the Westview Young People’s Orchestra and the proceeds benefit the Poway United Performing Arts Education. So how did these talented kids in this area come to capture his attention?
“Isn’t it wonderful? Is I am so excited! I met these kids in Poway about 2 years ago from the director Jerry Web who is a teacher there. We took one of the students, a young lady named Jennifer Lee, was part of our WTA program. So I went up to the school and she asked if she could borrow a chart of mine for a show. So I said “sure”. So she takes the chart, I came up and sing with the orchestra and these kids were so good I said ‘Let’s do a show together.’
So January 12th, I’m really excited for the community to help support the arts and support the arts in our young people’s lives.”
Mr. Vereen is excited to come to San Diego a few days prior to the show and rehearse because he knows the kids will be prepared for this show.
“The kids are rehearsing every day; then I’ll come in and do two days with them. My band is coming in to prepare with the guys and it’s going to be an amazing evening. I’m so excited. I was blown away when I heard them perform “Defying Gravity” which I do in my show, they nailed it. Now they’re going to do the entire show with me. My charts are antiquated because they’re from back in the day, they haven’t been updated as in digitalized, so they have marks from where other musicians have gone through them, and kids have to go through to find the chord, it’s complicated and a lot of work.”
This concert is not the only thing that Mr. Vereen does to help nurture youth in the arts. He is the namesake for the Ben Vereen Awards, with Broadway San Diego, which is a performance competition that sends the wining young man and young woman to New York to compete on a national level. Why is a nurturing youth art so important to focus on for him?
“They are our future. They are the ones who can make a difference in tomorrow. If we don’t nurture them then we lose our tomorrows.
This particular school has a fantastic orchestra. Everyone should know about Poway school, these kids are amazingly talented. You’ll see. You have a gold mine there, and especially in Poway.”
He is also excited to see what the Ben Vereen Awards can evolve into as it continues to progress.
“It is a pathway to excellence and I want it to continue in that vein and produce excellent talents for the world and greater all around people for the future. Help everyone be well rounded. Down the line I’d like to have workshops in the summer for these young people on the arts and have lawyers teach them about reading contracts, and accountants to take care of money, and nutritionists to take care of their bodies. Just overall get them ready for life.
We don’t prepare for life; we prepare them for the stage. My program is to prepare them for life as well as for the stage. Whether they stay in the theater or not, they’ll be better prepared for life because they realize the creative aspect of who they are. They’ll approach life from a creative point of view. Hopefully, it will be a creative and positive outlet for them.”
But first he implores everyone to come and support the kids of Poway on Thursday.
“San Diego please come support your youth. Let us support them. Let us stand behind them so they know they are supported and they will give us a better tomorrow because they have been loved.”
“Ben Vereen Steppin’ Out Live” is a one night only event Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Poway Performing Arts Center. For tickets and go to www.powaycenter.com