The Time Ben Vereen Teed Off Andrew Lloyd Webber

I caught Tony winner Ben Vereen's opening at 54 Below last night, where he was rivetingly entertaining, bringing fresh life to standards while giving about 175% on every syllable.

And he told a few fascinating anecdotes too.

Like how, when he tried out for Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar way back in the '70s, a man jumped onstage and said he'd play the piano accompaniment.

That was fine, until the man hit a chord Vereen didn't recognize in the least.

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"That's not the song," said Vereen, admonishingly.

"Yes it is," noted the accompanist, who seemed pretty sure of what he was saying.

He turned out to be Andrew Lloyd Webber.


"He didn't talk to me for 10 years after that," said Vereen, laughing. "But now we're friends.

"But why didn't he call me to play Phantom?" he wondered.

"The guy wears a mask. Who's gonna know?"

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