Ben Vereen, the Tony Award-winning actor who starred in musicals including “Pippin” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” has issued an apology following allegations of sexual misconduct by two actresses, during a regional production of “Hair” that he directed, according to a report in the Daily News.
While directing the 2015 production of the musical at the Venice Theatre in Florida, Vereen is alleged to have invited female cast members back to his apartment and goaded them into sex acts. He’s also accused of inappropriate talk and conduct during rehearsals that involved cast members stripping naked, ostensibly as preparation for a show that has, since its original 1967 production, been associated with a famous, full-cast nude scene. (Vereen appeared in the Broadway premiere of “Hair.”)
“I would like to apologize directly to the female cast members of the musical ‘Hair’ for my inappropriate conduct when I directed the production in 2015,” Vereen said in a statement. “While it was my intention to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process, I have since come to understand that it is my conduct, not my intentions, which are relevant here. So I am not going to make any excuses because the only thing that matters here is acknowledging and apologizing for the effects of my conduct on the lives of these women. Going forward, my having come to terms with my past conduct will inform all my future interactions not only with women, but with all individuals. I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive me.”
In a separate statement, Venice Theatre leadership said, “We have learned recently that during our 2015 production of ‘Hair,’ more than one female cast member was asked to join Mr. Vereen at his residence. Some of those visits resulted in compromising situations for at least two of the actresses.” The theater added that it was working to strength its policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment.