Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ACT OUT HOLIDAY: Once Upon A People OPENING at Black Ensemble Theatre

ChiIL Live Shows will be there tonight and we'll have a full review up shortly.   

Just in time for the holiday season
Black Ensemble Theater announces
Written and directed by Rueben D. Echoles
Sponsored by
The Chicago Community Trust
Working in conjunction with
Studio One

November 30-December 30
running in repertory with The Curtis Mayfield Story

Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor invites audiences to share in the magic of the holiday season with the world-premiere production of Once Upon A People: A Dancesical, written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Associate Director Rueben D. Echoles and made possible through a generous grant from Chicago Community Trust. During a limited run, Once Upon A People will enchant audiences of all ages at the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago.  The show will run November 30 - December 30, 2013 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays (with an added preview performance on Saturday, November 30) in repertory with The Curtis Mayfield Story.  

Once Upon A People is an original African Fairytale that exemplifies the true power of love told through spoken word, beautiful music and exhilarating dance. It's a touching and warm adventure that is perfect for the holiday season. We will journey to the mystical land of Mirah where Prince Oba and Princess Erin take us on a fascinating mystical experience that teaches us to embrace the joy of living. 

The cast features Alexis J. Rogers (Queen Imani), Donald Craig Manuel (King Babatunde), Eric Lewis (Prince Oba), Jazzelle Morriss (Princess Erin) and Claudia Cunningham (Zahara).  Cast members playing various roles include: Camille Robinson, A’rese Emokpae, Trequon Tate, Mark J.P. Hood, LaRaia Gribble, La Dreauna Johnson, Kudzaishe Jeti, Kyle Smith and Aramie C. Payton.

The book and lyrics for Once Upon A People are written by Rueben D. Echoles, with vocal and musical arrangements by Rueben D. Echoles, Alexis J. Rogers and Kelvin Roston, Jr.. As with all Black Ensemble productions, the production features outstanding musicians.  The Musical Director is Kelvin Roston, Jr.  and the band leader is Robert Reddrick. The production features students from Studio One, a Southside organization dedicated to providing professional dance classes for children for over 25 years. 

Title:                             Once Upon A People: A Dancesical
Written &
Directed by:                  Rueben D. Echoles
Vocal and Musical
Arrangements by:          Alexis J. RogersRueben D. Echoles and Kelvin Roston Jr.
Musical Director:           Kelvin Roston Jr.
Band Leader:                Robert Reddrick

Schedule:                     Monday:   Dec. 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 7:30pm
                                    Tuesday:  Dec. 10, 17, 24 at 7:30pm
Sunday:                      Dec.  8, 15, 22 and 29 at 7:30pm

Location:                      Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.
                                    Valet parking is available.
Ticket prices:                $45.00 for adults and $30.00 for children under 12

Box Office:                   Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The Black Ensemble Theater 
Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space; rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.  

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

Act Out Extended: 

Written by Jackie Taylor
Directed by Jackie Taylor and Daryl Brooks
Black Ensemble’s tribute to Chicago’s own music legend Curtis Mayfield is the story of a musical giant who is equally celebrated as a master singer, song writer and record producer.  Mayfield’s timeless music is known and celebrated all over the world, and he is the winner of the Grammy Legend Award (1994), the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1995) and a double inductee into both The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1991, 1999) and the Grammy Hall of Fame. From the music of The Impressions like “Gypsy Woman,” “I’m So Proud,” “Choice of Colors” to movie hits like “Super Fly,” The Curtis Mayfield Story will bring to vibrant, theatrical life the rare musical genius that was Curtis Mayfield. 

ChiIL Live Shows caught THE STORY OF CURTIS MAYFIELD: IT’S ALL-RIGHT TO HAVE A GOOD TIME, back on opening night and we highly recommend it.   This is a must see.   Click here for tickets and more info.

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