Friday September 22nd 2017

“The Jackie Wilson Story”

Highly Recommended**** The Black Ensemble, a leading entertainment troupe in Chicago is in its new home, a glorious cultural center located  in the Uptown neighborhood. Jackie Taylor, the founder of this organization, had a vision and a dream to bring the history of legends of music of the African American community to the people; their stories as well as their music and she has done this to great notoriety over the years. I will tell you that the work she has produced with her company has been remarkable and in particular the biographies of these sensational musicians who changed the lives of those to follow! And she did this in the lower level of  a converted school which was in no way designed to house theater. Her dream was not only to entertain, but to train and teach the arts to youngsters who might not have the opportunity if it were not for her desire and willingness to bring it to them. Her dreams keep becoming realities.

Black Ensemble Theater has its new home located at Sunnyside and Clark Streets ( 4450 N. Clark Street), a beautiful building that will now be home for  The Black Ensemble Theater Culural center, with comfortable seating, pleasureable rest rooms ( that are easy to get to), great sound and lighting equipment and a stage that is indeed a stage. While the beauty of the building is wonderful, what is even more wonderful is Ms taylor’s ability to find raw talent and mold it to bring the music of these legends to us. To open this new facility, they have chosen to restage the biggest hit they ever had,”The Jackie Wilson Story”. Jackie Wilson was a major entertainer who led the way for most of today’s Black artists. He was young and made many mistakes in life along his wayto stardom and while this biography written and directed by Ms Taylor tells of the downside tot his man as well as the positives, it is the celebration of the man and his music and what he brought to those following him that makes his memory one to keep in your minds forever.

As always, a solid cast of players brings this story to life with Kelvin Roston Jr. who brings new energy and life t his portrayal. he is an exciting performer to watch on stage. The rest of this bright cast is composed of Melanie McCullough,Dawn Bless, Reshawn Thompson,Lyle Miller, Reuben D. Echoles ( who also handles the top noctch choreography of this show), Robin E. Beaman,Lawrence Williams, Trinity P. Murdock ( who does a great stint as a Choreographer, that will knock your socks off), The always sparkling Carrie and Coryandre Wright. They all sing, they all dance and they all understand the music of Jackie Wilson. Songs such as “Am I The Man”, “C.C. Rider”,”To Be Loved”, “Goody Goody”, “Lonely Teardrops” ( an amazing end to the first act of this story) and “Danny Boy” as well as the finale “You’re Love Has Lifted Me Higher and Higher” under the leadership of musical director Robert Reddrick and his superb orchestra will make this almost 2 1/2 hour production feel like it has just started and will leave you wanting more- much more. Thank you Jackie Taylor for bring back “Jackie Wilson”!

This production will continue at The Black Ensemble Theater  Cultural Center through January 18th and while I know they have a season lined up, I can foresee this one being extended as it is one that is worth seeing, several times! Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $65 with group discounts as well as senior discounts. To order yours ( by the way, no more open seating, you can pick out what you want in advance) call the theater box office at  773-769-4451, visit www.blackensemble.org, any Ticketmaster outlet or online at www.ticketmaster.com

There is some street parking, meters and not and valet parking ( enclosed) is now available. Come visit the theater just to visit the theater and see how a vision and a dream can be accomplished when you work hard at making it happen.

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