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 to the News after being contacted about the allegations.
Although he positioned his behavior as part of a directorial strategy, he added, "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."
Venice Theatre said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the allegations after the organization first discovered them in November, and that the company was working to strengthen its sexual harassment policies.
Neither Vereen nor the theater immediately responded to a request for comment.