Showing posts with label 43rd season. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 43rd season. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019



Season to include tributes to Mahalia Jackson, Lena Horne,
Funk greats from James Brown to The Parliaments, Stevie Wonder
and the return of The Other Cinderella

Black Ensemble Theater’s Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor announces the 43rd Season of Excellence: Legends and Lessons. The 2019 Season includes tributes to the renowned Gospel great Mahalia Jackson, legendary singer and actress Lena Horne, funk legends from James Brown to The Parliaments, and the legendary Motown artist, American icon and musical genius Stevie Wonder. The season culminates with the return of audience favorite The Other Cinderella. All performances will be held at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. 

Jackie Taylor comments, “It's hard to believe that we are now in our 43rd Season here at the Black Ensemble Theater. As you know, we have a style all our own, and it will be in full swing for 2019. This is the Season of Legends and Lessons and it begins with renowned Gospel Great Mahalia Jackson, followed by the story and music of legendary Lena Horne. In You Can't Fake the Funk audiences will experience several legends from James Brown to the Parliaments, bringing you the kind of music that will not allow you to stay in your seats. In this Season of Legends, who is more eminent than Stevie Wonder? Our final musical of the Season is legendary because audiences continue to ask for it since we first produced it in 1976—and that's the magical The Other Cinderella. The 2019 season—The Season of Legends and Lessons—will go down in history as one of our best!”

The Black Ensemble Theater’s 2019 Season includes:

Mahalia Jackson: Moving Through The Light
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor

March 2-April 14, 2019, Previews: March 2, 3, 8 and 9, Press Opening: Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m.

Mahalia Jackson was considered the greatest gospel singer in the world. Her deep rich voice made her an international star. We learn through this riveting tribute to her life that she not only sang the Gospel, she lived the Gospel. This musical tribute will feature many of her classics including “Precious Lord,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Move on up a Little Higher,” and “I Believe,” to name a few.

Lena: In Tribute to Lena Horne
Written by Kylah Williams and Rueben Echoles
Directed by Kylah Williams

May 11 – June 30, 2019, Previews: May 11, 12, 17 and 18, Press Opening: Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m.

With a career that spanned roughly 70 years – Lena Horne is a legend with many life lessons from which we can learn. Join us for a true Black Ensemble style exploration of the people, the music and the experiences that reflect the life of this extraordinary performer, civil rights pioneer and phenomenal woman known as Lena Horne.

You Can’t Fake the Funk (From James Brown to Parliament)
Written and Directed by Daryl D. Brooks

July 20 – September 8, 2019, Previews: July 20, 21, 26 and 27, 2019,Press Opening: Sunday, July 28 at 3 p.m.

Hop on the “Mothership” as we journey back when Afro’s were big, bellbottoms were tight, and the music was out of sight. You Can’t Fake the Funk (From James Brown to Parliament guides us through a musical genre that is sure to have you groovin in your seats...Ya’ Digg!!

Songs in the Key of Stevie
Written and Directed by Rueben Echoles

October 5 – November 17, 2019, Previews: October 5, 6, 11 and 12, 2019, Press Opening: Sunday, October 13 at 3 p.m.

Prodigy, genius and phenomenon are just a few of the words used to describe the amazing Stevie Wonder! This show is a musical journey that pays tribute to Stevie’s incredible body of work and sheds a little light on the life and times of this phenomenal artist!

The Other Cinderella
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor

December 14, 2019 – January 26, 2020, Previews: December 14, 25, 20 and 21, 2019, Press Opening: Sunday, December 22 at 3 p.m.

The Other Cinderella is a Black Ensemble classic that has been enjoyed by people of all colors, kinds and ages. In this African American rendition of this African fairy tale, Cinderella is from the projects, The Stepmamma works at the Post Office, there is a King, Queen and Prince, there are the Brothers are From The Hood, and The Fairygodmama is from Jamaica. The Other Cinderella is a musical classic that audiences have returned to see time and time again. The music is divine, the dancing is wild and the story is uplifting, positive and infectious.

In addition to Black Ensemble Theater’s regular season, a number of special events will be presented during the year, including:

The Annual Black Ensemble New Year’s Eve Show
December 31, 2019

Like all Black Ensemble events, the New Year’s Eve celebration will be an occasion filled with joy and excitement. Guests at the celebration will enjoy a performance by the stars of Black Ensemble Theater, along with great entertainment, fabulous food, dancing with the stars and champagne flowing all night long!  

Tickets are available at, (773) 769-4451 or at the Black Ensemble Theater Box Office, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. Single tickets for regular season performances are priced at $55 on Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. Previews are priced at $45.

The Black Ensemble Theater will sell the Gold Card which allows the holder to see all 5 plays for $210 which represents a $30% discount on full price tickets.  The Gold Card is good for 1 ticket per production.  For more details or to purchase a Gold Card contact the box office at 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. 

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, visit or call 773-769-4451. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

OPENING: Northlight Theatre's 43rd Season Begins With Chicago Premiere of The Legend of Georgia McBride 9/14-10/22/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Northlight Theatre opens its 2017-2018 season with
the Chicago Premiere of
The Legend of Georgia McBride
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Lauren Shouse
September 14-October 22

Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, presents the Chicago Premiere of The Legend of Georgia McBride, written by Matthew Lopez, directed by Lauren Shouse. The Legend of Georgia McBride runs September 14-October 22 at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd in Skokie.

A down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator has an overdrawn checking account and a baby on the way. When a drag show takes over the entertainment at the Florida Panhandle bar where he performs, he’ll also be out of a job…unless he’s willing to step into some high heels. This heartwarming, music-filled comedy celebrates the unexpected path to finding your true voice.

“When Lauren Shouse brought The Legend of Georgia McBride to my attention, I could immediately see that it was fun, uplifting, musical, and written by one of our favorite authors, Matthew Lopez, who also wrote The Whipping Man,” comments BJ Jones. “It's a piece about outsiders who gradually bring us into their family—a family who celebrates our identities, our freedom, our uniqueness and our commonality. And this central notion is the vital message we need to hear right now in an atmosphere of dissonance, intolerance and hate.”

The cast of The Legend of Georgia McBride includes Sean Blake (Miss Tracy Mills), Keith Kupferer (Eddie), Jeff Kurysz (Rexy/Jason), Nate Santana (Casey) and Leslie Ann Sheppard (Jo). 

The creative team includes Chris Carter (Choreography), Richard and Jacqueline Penrod (Scenic Design), Rachel Laritz (Costume Design), JR Lederle (Lighting Design), Kevin O’Donnell (Sound Design). The production stage manager is Rita Vreeland.

Northlight’s production of The Legend of Georgia McBride is supported in part by Bob and Lisa Silverman.


Director Lauren Shouse is ​the Artistic Associate and Literary Manager at Northlight Theatre. Her local directing credits include Betrayal at Raven and work at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Rivendell Theatre, Sideshow Theatre, Route 66, Chicago Dramatists, and Stage Left Theatre. Prior to moving to Evanston, Lauren was Artistic Associate at Nashville Rep.

LAUREN SHOUSE (Director) is the Artistic Associate and Literary Manager at Northlight. ​In Chicago, Lauren has also worked with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Lookingglass, R​ivendell, Sideshow, Route 66, Chicago Dramatists, and Stage Left. Her recent directing credits include: ​Betrayal at Raven; Rapture, Blister, Burn, Superior Donuts, and A Christmas Story at Nashville Rep​ertory Theatre; Eurydice and In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play at Northwestern's Wirtz Center; Long Way Down with 3Ps productions; Religion and Rubber Ducks with Ovvio Arte; Parallel Lives, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Last Five Years and Chess in Concert with Street Theatre Company; Rear Window at Chaffin's Barn Theatre; and Sylvia Plath’s 3 Women. A​s Artistic Associate at ​Nashville Rep, Lauren directed the Ingram New Works Play Lab and Festival. She received her MFA in theatre directing at Northwestern University. ​ ​

This production of The Legend of Georgia McBride marks the second collaboration with playwright Matthew Lopez and Northlight Theatre. His first play, The Whipping Man, was produced by Northlight in their 2012-2013 season.

MATTHEW LOPEZ (Playwright) is the author of The Whipping Man, one of the most widely-produced American plays of the last decade. The Legend of Georgia McBride premiered at the Denver Center and then produced in New York by MCC and in Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse. Other plays include Somewhere (Old Globe, world premiere), Reverberation (Hartford Stage Company, world premiere), The Sentinels (London’s Headlong Theatre Company) and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding (upcoming world premiere at the Denver Center, 2018). Matthew holds commissions from Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, The Geffen Playhouse and Williamstown Theatre Festival.  Matthew was a writer on the HBO series The Newsroom and is currently writing the biopic Dr. Q for Disney.

About his diverse body of work, playwright Matthew Lopez comments, “They’re all about home, creating home and family — either blood family or manufactured family. 'Georgia McBride’ is about a group of people who don’t really fit in anywhere else. I call them my misfit toys, and they build a home together at the bar.

SEAN BLAKE (Miss Tracy Mills) returns to the Northlight stage where he was seen in Everything’s Ducky, A Civil War Christmas and Grey Gardens. Broadway/National tours: Showboat (1st National - Dance Captain/Swing) and Showboat (Australia - Assoc. Choreographer). Regional: The Great Society and The Little Foxes (Asolo Rep); Smokey Joe’s Café (Drury Lane); Animal Crackers (Baltimore Centerstage); The Story, Purlie, Ain't Misbehavin, The Rose Tattoo and Bounce (Goodman); Porgy and Bess (Jeff Nomination - Best Supporting Actor) and Raisin (Court); Carousel (Court and Long Wharf Theatre); Birdie Blue (Seattle Rep); Nobody (Alabama Shakespeare); Timon of Athens (Chicago Shakespeare); and  Hot Mikado (Fulton Opera). Sean can be heard on the original cast recording of Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince's Bounce. He is a recipient of a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Actor for his solo performance in Why Not Me? A Sammy Davis Jr. Story written by Tim Rhoze.

KEITH KUPFERER (Eddie) Theater credits include Cat Fee and The Old Neighborhood (Northlight); The Qualms, Good People, Middletown, South of Settling, Of Mice and Men, Carter's Way, Men of Tortuga, Things Being What They Are, and Jesus Hopped The A Train (Steppenwolf); The Humans (American Theatre Company); Support Group for Men, God of Carnage, High Holidays, Passion Play, and The Old Neighborhood  (Goodman); Hillary and Clinton, Never the Sinner, and Appropriate (Victory Gardens); The Mystery of Love and Sex, A Streetcar Named Virginia Wolf  (Writers); Gypsy (Chicago Shakespeare);  Execution of Justice (About Face); and Desire Under The Elms (Court). Screen credits include Widows, The Dilemma, Dark Knight, Public Enemies, The Express, Stranger than Fiction, Road to Perdition, Fred Klaus, Better Call Saul, Shameless, Betrayal, Empire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire among others.

JEFF KURYSZ (Rexy/Jason) is so thrilled to be making his Northlight debut. Other Chicago credits include Shakespeare in Love (Chicago Shakespeare); Support Group for Men (Goodman); Romeo and Juliet (Backroom Shakespeare Project); Julius Caesar (Brown Paper Box Co.); As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing (The Arc Theatre); Year of the Rooster and R+J: The Vineyard (Red Theater); Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista); One Came Home (Lifeline); All My Sons (Eclectic Theatre Co.); and Amadeus (Boho Theatre). Regional credits include Richard III, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre). Television credits include Crisis (NBC). Mr. Kurysz is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf.

NATE SANTANA (Casey) makes his Northlight debut. Other Chicago credits include SS! Romeo and Juliet and SS! Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare); Marvin’s Room (Shattered Globe); Ironbound (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Balm in Gilead and Golden Boy (Griffin); White Tie Ball, Momma’s Boyz (Teatro Vista); Comrades Mine (City Lit); The Rainmaker (BoHo); The Merchant of Venice, (First Folio); What Happened When and Slipping (the side project). Television credits include Chicago PD and The Exorcist. Nate is a proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista and an artistic associate with Shattered Globe. He has been nominated for two Jeff Awards and is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf. He received his BA from Valparaiso University.

LESLIE ANN SHEPPARD (Jo) returns for her second Northlight production. She was last seen as Bessie in Eclipsed. Chicago theatre credits include Rosalind in As You Like It (First Folio); Pauline in Cinderella (Hypocrites); Bart in Mr. Burns (Theater Wit); Maddie in The Hundred Dresses and Jabari Dreams of Freedom (Chicago Children’s Theatre); Tree, Lost Boys of Sudan and The Snow Queen (Victory Gardens); Harriet Jacobs (Steppenwolf) and House with No Walls (TimeLine). Regional/touring credits: Fall of the House (Theatre Squared), Julius Caesar (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Othello’s Furies (Chicago Fringe Festival), and Gershwin’s Magic Key (Classical Kids/Kennedy Center). TV credits: Chicago Fire (NBC), Mob Doctor (FOX). She is a former Artistic Director of The Suitcase Shakespeare Company, an Ensemble Member of The Hypocrites and represented by Gray Talent Group.

The Legend of Georgia McBride received its world premiere at Denver Center Theatre, with subsequent productions at the MCC Lucille Lortel Theatre and the Geffen Theater in LA.

The Box Office is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, in Skokie. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm, and Saturdays 12:00pm-5:00pm. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The Box Office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.

Curtain times are: Tuesdays: 7:30pm (September 19 and October 17 only); Wednesdays: 1:00pm (except October 11) and 7:30pm; Thursdays: 7:30pm; Fridays: 8:00pm; Saturdays: 2:30pm (except September 16) and 8:00pm; and Sundays: 2:30pm and 7:00pm (September 17 and October 8 only).

Previews: $30-$57
Regular run: $30-$81
Student tickets are $15, any performance
(subject to availability)

Box Office:              
The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.

Northlight is continuing its popular special event series in conjunction with each production.  All events are free. 

Backstage with BJ: The Legend of Georgia McBride
September 8 at 12:00pm 
at Northlight Theatre
9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL
Backstage with BJ is a mid-day discussion with Artistic Director BJ Jones, featuring special guest artists, actors, directors and designers, offering behind-the-scenes insight into each production while it is still in rehearsal.  Backstage with BJ for The Legend of Georgia McBride will be held on September 8 at 12:00pm and will last approximately one hour. Event is free but reservations are required. Visit to reserve your spot.

Inside Look: The Legend of Georgia McBride
October 5 at 2:00-3:00pm
at Evanston Public Library
1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston, IL
Explore the context of the play, The Legend of Georgia McBride, through a discussion and a Q&A session with panelists related to the production.

Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community. 

Now entering its 43rd season, the organization has mounted over 200 productions, including nearly 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 202 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 34 Awards. As one of the area’s premier theatre companies, Northlight is a regional magnet for critical and professional acclaim, as well as talent of the highest quality. 

Northlight is supported in part by generous contributions from Allstate Insurance; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation; BMO Harris Bank; Henrietta Lange Burk Fund; The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; The Chicago Community Trust; ComEd, An Exelon Company; The Davee Foundation; Edgerton Foundation for New American Plays Award; Evanston Community Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Kirkland & Ellis Foundation; The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Melvoin Award for Playwriting; Modestus Bauer Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Niles Township; The Offield Family Foundation; The Pauls Foundation; Room & Board; Sanborn Family Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Sullivan Family Foundation; and Tom Stringer Design Partners.

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