Chicago has a strong history when it comes to music. In particular the music of the African American performers of the 1960’s ( while it went into the 70’s, it is the early 60’s that were the “Golden Years” of “Golden Soul” which is the reason that Jackie Taylor wrote the musical history lesson “Chicago’s Golden Soul”, now on stage at Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago.
“Chicago’s Golden Soul” is a walk down memory lane ( which in reality was South Michigan Avenue) where dreams were made reality and the likes of Jerry butler and Curtis Mayfield began their careers. There were many more: Gene Chandler, Major Lance, The Impressions, Betty Everett, Barbara Aklin, The memorable Etta james ( the incredible Alanna Taylor will knock your socks off with her interpretation of Ms James), and a special tribute to the Chi Lites.
Think back to these times when new dances were born: The Twist, The Twine, The Monkey, Go-Go Gorilla, The Watusi and the Roach! This is a history lesson that many younger audience members will learn from and the older ones will rejoice in stirring up the memories of the good old days. These were the days before ” Motown” and a time when records were made here in Chicago. We are always referred to as “the Second City”, but back in the late 50’s and early 60’s, none came close to what came out of Chicago’s recording studios, and young African-American performers who had moved North from little towns in the South went door to door to seek their fame and fortune. As history shows us, many made it! Here in Chicago!
This show sparkles with bright talent. I am not sure how Jackie Taylor keeps finding the talent she does, but whether they come to her or she seeks them out, the talent just keeps pouring in to this theater. In this particular show, we have some newcomers to her stage along with veterans, and as the two plus hours of story-telling and music continue,when we think we have seen the best of the evening, we get the surprise of watching yet another performer bypass what we just witnessed. This just keeps on happening an dthat is why everyone should make sure that they find a way to get to this vibrant theater on the North Side of Chicago, for every show.
What they are doing now is running what is called “Repertory:, which means that they are running TWO shows at the same time, on different nights/days. Their main production, “The Story Of Curtis Mayfield” which has now been extended through March 30th fits perfectly with “Chicago’s Golden Soul” as mr. Mayfield is a major player in that story, one might say “his”story ( HIS-STORY, get it?).
The song list is immense in this story telling REVUE: “I Stand Accused”, “Make It Easy On Yourself”, “raindrops”,”Duke Of Earl” “Kill That Roach” ( a cleverly done dance number), “Give Me Your Love”, “Summertime””let it be Me”, “Backfield In Motion” and oh, so much more!
:Chicago’s Golden Soul will continue through March 29th ( I hope longer, so more of you can witness the glory of a time well remembered) with performances as follows:
Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $55 and $65 and are available at the theater located at 4450 N. Clark Street ( just North of Montrose), by phone at 773-769-4451 or online at www.blackensembletheatre.org
You will not want to miss this energetic look at what Chicago was and this amazing cast of performers: Chistina D. Harper, Cecil Jones, Rob Love, Brian Nelson, Katrina Richard, David L. Simmons, the aforementioned Alana Taylor, Lawrence Williams, Byron Willis and Ta-Tynisa Wilson. The orchestra under the direction of Robert Reddrick ( who truly makes his drums another character on stage) and his five musicians are something special to hear and watch as they bring the spirit of the times alive.
Written and directed by Ms Taylor, who has made this theater something special and a showplace for Chicago, you will find yourself clapping your hands, tapping your feet and several of you WILL join the performers on the stage during the first act. Problem is, once you start , you will not want it to end. That is the magic of the performance space known as Black Ensemble Theater- we go for entertainment and we get spiritual uplifting , so when we leave, we feel as if a weight has been lifted from our lives. No matter what we felt duringthe day! No matter if we had a good day or a bad one!- when we depart from Black Ensemble, we feel GOOD! In fact, better than GOOD- we feel enlightened!
To see what others are saying visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at Chicago’s Golden Soul”, and while you are there, you might also look at “It’s All Right To Have A Good Time,The Story of Curtis Mayfield” and as Ernie Banks always said “let’s play TWO”! There is valet ( indoor ) parking on premise and street parking, some metered, some not.