Ben Harney is a NYC based theatre director, actor, and educator. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he entered the thriving arts culture of New York City through the eyes and heart of his mother at age four. By age seven, she enrolled him in modern dance class with Syvilla Fort at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance. That same year he made his television debut on the Emmy winning CBS Special, Tonight with Belafonte - and that began the journey.
Church, community and borough-wide choruses and productions then the Laguardia High School of Music and Art. Dance scholarships with the Fred Benjamin School and The Dance Theatre of Harlem. Then, at eighteen, he landed his first Broadway gig, in the chorus of Purlie.Broadway was his career calling and he found consistent work. Wanting stronger technique, he began a hiatus from the industry in 1974, to attend the Juilliard School with a full scholarship in Dance. By the end of that year he was cast in the original Broadway production of The Wiz, while still juggling classes at Juilliard.
The pattern of work and study continued in New York City and on tour. In time, he garnered a long list of credits as lead actor on Broadway including: The Wiz, Treemonisha, Pippin, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Tap Dance Kid, Brownstone, Williams and Walker and Dreamgirls for which he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Work on television includes, District Attorney Peter Ramsey on ABC’s All My Childrenand his own children’s video series, Ben & Eddie.
Mr. Harney began directing in 1985. It soon became his passion.
He has directed projects and readings around New York City including work with Urban Stages, New Federal Theater and the Negro Ensemble Company.
He was as Artist-in-Residence at Fordham University Lincoln Center 1987-89 and Visiting-Assistant Professor at Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn 1992-93.
In California, he taught and coached performers in the Los Angeles film and TV industry 1994-96. Notably, he taught acting at Harvest School of Performing Arts, and had ongoing gigs coaching the leads in two new TV series, Ralph Harris in On Our Ownand Rondell Sheridan in Minor Adjustments,.
Returning to New York in 1997, work with families and building young artists increasingly became his focus. Since then, he has been a program developer and stage director for public schools and director of the Drama Ministry and main-stage plays and musicals for seasonal and special event productions at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn
In 2001 he and his wife founded By All Means Save Some (BAMSS) Theatre Works – a community based, not-for-profit theatre company in Brooklyn, NY. BAMSS Studio Theatrebecame the home ofBAMSS Youth Theatre Ensemble (BYTE), BAMSS Adult Repertory Company (BARC), BAMSS Workshops and Summer Musical Theatre Workshops. Summers since 1998 were spent directing camps and musical theatre workshops for BAMSS, then Summer 2013 – 2016 Musical Drama and Dance intensives for BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Medgar Evers College Pipeline Outreach.