Highly Recommended ***** In conjunction with the other show I saw today, “Doo Wop Shoo Bop”, this is the “partner” at Black Ensemble Theater running in Repertory with the aforementioned- “Those Sensational Soulful ’60s”, a trip down memory lane with the past production of this fabulous theater as well as our own memories of the music of the period- the 1960’s. For many of us, this was a time of growing up. Many of us finished our education, started our career and in some cases, began family life. It was a golden era in the music industry. In music “Soul” was topping the charts and groups such as The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops and The Marvelettes ruled! Soul singers such as Sammy Cooke Otis Redding, Mary Wells, Tina Turner (with Ike), Patti LaBelle, Mahilia Jackson, Ray Charles, Aretha and as pointed out in this production, many might consider the fact that Frank Sinatra (think about “That’s Life”) and Sammy Davis Junior might have been classified as “soul” despite not being the typical Soul Singer thought of. Ms. Taylor, who wrote and directed this show, advises us in the content that “soul” is not in any way racial. It is in the heart and “soul” where the music comes from!
What makes attending a production at Black Ensemble Theater, now celebrating 40 years of bringing quality musical stories to the Uptown neighborhood, is that they bring us quality of music, high energetic performances and a place where the audience will express themselves and show the performers the love and RESPECT that they deserve. Watching the audience during a show at Black Ensemble is half the fun and to be honest, worth the price of the ticket on its own merit and delight. Those who come, come because they love what they see and are made to feel that the actors are doing the show just for them. I must tell you, one always leaves this theater with an upbeat feeling and as always, I find myself singing along with the performer and clapping my hands and stamping my feet to the beat. Thank you Jackie Taylor for th past 40 years and just to play it safe, thank you for the next ten as well. I hope I can be with you for 50 years and dance on stage with you!
This show has almost the same cast as the “Doo Wop” with a few changes. Added to the aforementioned RaShawn Thompson, Melanie McCullough, Kyle Smith (who will astound you with his dancing during his “Higher & Higher”) Shari Addison. Jessica Seals, David Simmons, Kylah Fry are Kenny Davis and Theo Huff. Talk about music and memorable songs! “You Send Me”, “Chain Gang”, “Resp[ect”, “Release Me”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (in a whole new light), “Mr. Postman”, “Dancing In The Street”, “My Girl” (just as The Temptations used to do it), “Stop In The Name Of Love” and many, many more. I put this as a Cabaret evening as well as there is no real story or book on this one, just great music brought to us by a very talented and energetic cast of performers- the Best that Chicago has to offer, as always at Black Ensemble Theater.
If you can only choose one to see, this would probably be the one as the music is more than likely familiar to you. I suggest, if you can to lock in a Saturday and attend both. It will make for a memory that will last for years to come, or even forever! This is 2 hours and 15 minutes with an intermission.
Wednesdays 7 p.m.
Thursdays 7 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Tickets $55 and $65 with a 10% discount for seniors and students. To order your seats call 773-769-4451 or visit www.blackensemble.org
The theater is located at 4450 N. Clark Street with indoor valet parking at $10 ( just a block north of Montrose Ave).
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Those Sensational Soulful ’60s”