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Benjamin Scheuer’s ‘The Lion’ roars on

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Singer-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer brings his acclaimed one-man show “The Lion” to The City. (Courtesy Matthew Murphy)

Benjamin Scheuer is a roll with his one-man show “The Lion.”

“It’s exceeded any expectations I ever had,” says the New York-based singer-songwriter, who has toured it internationally and opens a two-week engagement at American Conservatory Theater’s Strand Theater on Tuesday.

He plays seven guitars (six are acoustic) in the autobiographical musical, an off-Broadway hit in 2014 that earned him a 2015 Drama Desk Award and a spot on Huffington Post’s list of 10 best theater performances of 2015.

“The Lion” — which evolved from a coffee-house piece called “The Bridge” that won acclaim at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival — has spawned other projects, including a video of his current favorite tune from the show, “Weather the Storm.” Directed by Peter Baynton, it was the public’s choice for best music video at the 2016 British Animation Awards.

“Pete is telling a story as a visual analogy to my song,” says Scheuer, who adds, “It seems natural that music lives in different media and different contexts.”

He says “musical theater is a not genre, but a methodology,” and is inspired by how “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (whom he met when, he says, “I had the littlest show in town and he had the biggest”) is changing the nature of the cast album, making it something more than a souvenir.

In a similar vein, Scheuer in June is releasing “Songs from The Lion,” an album he created with producer Geoff Kraly, engineer Pat Dillett, mixer Kevin Killen, Josh Freese, drummer for Nine Inch Nails; Josh Dion, Paris Monster drummer, and Chris Morrissey, bassist for Sara Bareilles.

Scheuer admits that many details about his life in “The Lion” aren’t unique: “My father died when I was a kid, I had a romance that was good until it went bad, I got sick and then I got better. None of this is unique to me. I’m telling a universal story about how we want one thing, then get another… about how we become ourselves,” he says.

To that end, there’s more in store for the future of “The Lion.” Scheuer says that after doing the role in Los Angeles in 2017, he’s going to be looking for someone else to play Ben: “It can be anybody who can play the guitar parts — any age, any gender.”


The Lion
Where: ACT’s Strand Theater, 1127 Market St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; closes May 1
Tickets: $25 to $55
Contact: (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org

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