Tony Award winner Ben Vereen has slammed critics who called R+B star Usher's debut performance on the Broadway stage "wooden". Vereen is the godfather of the YEAH! star - real name Usher Raymond - and insists critics need to give the young star a break. Producers are thrilled with Usher's singing, dancing and sex appeal, but some theatre insiders were concerned his acting during Tuesday night's (22AUG06) opening show was a little wooden. Veeren, who has been coaching Usher, tells the New York Post, "Given the time we had to work, I thought he was terrific on Tuesday. "It was his first time on the Broadway stage and he was nervous, but he hit the mark." Vereen claims Usher knows his job is far from over, adding, "He's prepared to do the work. He's a duck out of water, but he's coming to the shore."