Showing posts with label ChiILpicks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ChiILpicks. Show all posts

Thursday, January 10, 2013

ACT OUT CLOSING: The Other Cinderella at Black Ensemble Theatre #ChiILpicks #review #holidaytheatrefavs

Must close January 13



If you haven't seen this show yet, go already!   The Other Cinderella is highly recommended and makes our ChiILpicks list for Holiday Theatre Favorites.  My nine year old daughter, Sage, and I caught opening night of this rockin' remake of the fairytale classic and were blown away by the talented cast and creative script.  

Sage is all about grrrrl power and has a low tolerance for the typical Cinderella fairy tale genre, so we happily skipped the more traditional Emerald City Cinderella for The Other Cinderella this year.   Sage found great role models in tiny but mighty Alyssa Zopp (Peanut Butter), a girl from the hood who's "one of the boys", and in Ta-Tynisa Wilson's entirely endearing Cinderella portrayal. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the impressive talent of the vocalists, and the soul, Motown vibe of the musical numbers was a welcome break from more traditional, seasonal musical fare.  Sage did grumble that there were too many songs and not enough dialogue, but she's not a huge fan of musicals, to begin with.  Otherwise she was quite enthusiastic about recommending the show.   There's a bit of mellowly mature language, but overall, this is a great, family friendly piece with hilarious characters and and excellent message of empowerment, made modern, yet retaining fun fairy tale elements.   

We sincerely hope The Other Cinderella continues to make a reappearance as a holiday classic for years to come.   The Other Cinderella has returned every other year since 1976.   Sure, the famous coach driver has changed over the years, and cell phones and other updated trappings have appeared and become woven into the ever evolving and changing piece.    But the core message remains as timely and relevant as it was 26 years ago. 

The Other Cinderella

Written & directed by:    Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor
Choreographer:             Rueben Echoles
Musical Director:           Robert Reddrick
Dates:                          November 23 – January 13, 2012 
Location:                      Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.
Ticket prices:                $55 - $65
Box Office:                   Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The most successful of all of the Black Ensemble Theater productions, The Other Cinderella returns every other year since 1976.  It is now a Black Ensemble classic that always features some new twist, turns, and surprises.  The Other Cinderella joyously retells the familiar fairy tale with an Afro-centric twist.  There’s a “Stepmama” who works at the post office, two stepsisters who “don’t do nuthin’,” the brothers are from the ‘hood, Cinderella was born in the projects and the “fairy Godmama” is from Jamaica.  Just as in the “traditional” Cinderella, there is a King, a Queen, and a Prince, but in this kingdom, everybody has soul.  The Other Cinderella is appropriate for all ages, featuring original music, exciting dances and a heartwarming story that reminds audiences of the greatness of the human spirit.

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.

“We are thrilled to bring back our bi-annual hit The Other Cinderella,” says Jackie Taylor. “It’s amazing to witness the many generations that keep returning year after year. The audience is a rainbow of colors, cultures and ages which testifies to how The Other Cinderella delivers a message of love, hope and the importance of believing in yourself that really speaks to the masses.” As with every production there is always something new and exciting coming from the Kingdom of Other.

As with all Black Ensemble Theater productions, Robert Reddrick will serve as musical director charged with making the beautiful original music written by Jackie Taylor and Michael Ward an unforgettable and transformational experience. The Black Ensemble Musicians include Robert Reddrick on drums, Tracy Baker on bass, Herbert Walker on guitar, and Mark Moultrup and Andrea Moore on piano.

The cast includes: Ta-Tynisa Wilson (Cinderella), A’rese Emokpae (The Fairy God Mama), Dawn Bless (Stepmama), Lisa Beasley (Margarite), Jessica Moore (Geneva), Dwight Neal (King), Rhonda Preston (Queen), Lawrence Williams (Prince), Raymond Wise (Page), David Simmons (Attendant), Mandy Lewis (Lady in Waiting), Brandon Holmes (Ground Hog), Alyssa Zopp (Peanut Butter), Malcolm Thompson (Pee Wee) Rueben Echoles (A.B.) and Erin O’Shea (Dorothy.)

The outstanding production team tasked with making this the most magical of all The Other Cinderella’s in the past 35 years includes Dave Ferguson (Set Design), June Saito (Costumes), Denise Karczewski (Lights), Rueben Echoles (Choreography and Wigs), and Sarah Helt (Props). Bekki Lambrecht is the Technical Director, Emily Wall is the production stage manager and Vickie Spires is the company Equity stage manager.

Black Ensemble Theater's world premiere production of
will be featured during Chicago Theater Week.

From Doo Wop to Hip Hop
Written by Jackie Taylor and Rueben Echoles
Directed by Jackie Taylor
February 7, 2013-March 31, 2013
Opening: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

This melodic look at the Doo Wop era celebrates such iconic groups as The Platters, The Drifters and the Chantels (just to name a few). Since it first premiered in 1995 it has had several revivals because it is indeed a Black Ensemble Theater Treasure. You can't help but snap your fingers to the beat as we take a stroll down memory lane hearing those beautiful songs like Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, This Magic Moment and Maybe while exploring how the successful music of today is related to the magical era of Doo Wop. With the emphasis on Doo Wop music this is a production that brings the '50s into the 21st Century.

Chicago Theater Week

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 completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), is expected in 2013

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


ChiILpicks--ChiIL Mama's Great Gifts List

It may be hard to think beyond the holidays at the moment, but tickets are on sale now for the 8th annual “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah,” January 19 and January 20.   Tickets are great clutter busting gifts that create lasting family memories.

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. with this annual, aural, all ages, celebration.

Chicago favorites Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson join 200 of Chicago’s finest musicians and vocalists, under the direction of Bill Fraher and Suzanne Mallare Acton, for two public performances only—filling the historic landmark theater with the joyous sounds and exuberance of this All-American reinvention of Handel’s “Messiah.”

200 Musicians and Vocalists With Soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and
Karen Marie Richardson Pay Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. with the 8th annual “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah,” January 19 and January 20. Chicago favorites Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson join 200 of Chicago’s finest musicians and vocalists, under the direction of Bill Fraher and Suzanne Mallare Acton, for two public performances only—filling the historic landmark theater with the joyous sounds and exuberance of this All-American reinvention of Handel’s “Messiah.” Tickets ($30 – $74) are on sale now and available online at, by calling (800) 982-2787 or at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy). 

A one-hour Student Matinee performance is offered on Friday, January 18, open to any student elementary through high school for $10 each. Tickets are available by calling (312) 341-2357.

Performance Schedule and Ticket Information

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah” performs at the Auditorium Theatre:
Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 at 11 a.m. (one hour Student Matinee Performance*)
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 20, 213 at 3 p.m.**

Tickets to the Jan. 19 and 20 performances are $30 - $74, available online at, by calling (800) 982-2787 or in-person at the Auditorium’s Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

*The Friday, Jan. 18 student matinee is available to elementary through high school student groups of 10 or more people. Group tickets are $10 each and available by calling
(312) 341-2357.

**A free Q&A with “Too Hot to Handel” artists immediately follows the Sunday afternoon performance.

Since its 2006 Chicago debut, “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah” has continued to reinvigorate audiences while paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This show provides our community with a truly unique way to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, not only because of Dr. King’s deep love of gospel and jazz music but the way in which it represents Chicago’s diversity in both performers and audience members,” said Executive Director Brett Batterson. “It’s incredible to see an entire audience brought to their feet with such vigor and excitement. It is a true celebration of music, and of a man so important to United States history.”

Ingeniously re-imagined to embrace black musical tradition, the aptly named ‘Too Hot to Handel’ proved that even the most revered classical masterpieces can be taught to swing.” (Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich). Mixing gospel and jazz stylings, “Too Hot” brings music lovers of all genres to their feet. Brought to life onstage by 200 Chicago musicians including 150 voices from the citywide “Too Hot” Choir under the direction of Old St. Patrick’s Church music director Bill Fraher, and a 50-piece symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble under the baton of conductor Suzanne Mallare Acton. “Too Hot to Handel” then brings the powerhouse voices of Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke and Karen Marie Richardson to lead the group through the incredible music that fills the Auditorium Theatre. The show is enhanced through LED screens that will not only display historical photos of Martin Luther King Jr. but will also capture the performers and audience members during the performance. Video Production made possible through the generosity of Bill & Shelley Farley.

In tandem with “Too Hot to Handel,” the Auditorium’s Department of Creative Engagement utilizes innovative programming to involve the community by teaching Chicago students about Martin Luther King Jr. and the power of music and celebration. For the 4th consecutive year, the Auditorium invites Chicago Public School students, grades 3-12, to write an original poem celebrating Dr. King's vision of the beloved community. Finalist’s poems will be published in “N’DIGO” Magazine. In addition, the grand prize-winner will receive 4 free tickets to the “Too Hot to Handel” opening night performance and will recite their poem on stage before the show.  Poems must be sent via mail to Attn: THTH Poetry Contest, 50 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605, and received by Friday December 7, 2012.
Auditorium Theatre’s Department of Creative Engagement is also reaching out to CPS High School Choirs and inviting them to apply to a “Too Hot to Handel” Master Class facilitated by the “Too Hot to Handel” stars. Students will have the opportunity to work with “Too Hot” conductor Suzanne Mallare Acton, perform a solo piece and receive coaching from “Too Hot” vocalists Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon and are invited to attend the Student Matinee performance. Please contact for more information on the Master Class.

The Auditorium also offers the “Too Hot” Residency Program, bringing together the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jrand the music of “Too Hot to Handel.” A free program for CPS Grades 3 – 8, students will examine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the beloved community while gaining a basic understanding of musical composition. Under the guidance of “Too Hot” Teaching Artists, students will create a final musical composition reflecting on and musically articulating their own vision of what Dr. King’s beloved community means to them now. Residencies take place in December and early January. No musical training or instruments necessaryAlso available free to CPS Grades 3 – 8, is a One-Day Workshop where students will study elements of “Too Hot” to understand how small personal choices have a big impact the community.  Students will use this knowledge to create a quilt that will be displayed in the Auditorium lobby expressing how they individually can make a positive difference.  Contact Christina BournéDirector of Education and Creative Engagement at (312) 341-2353 or

Too Hot to Handel” is presented by Exelon. “Too Hot to Handel” educational outreach programs are made possible through the JPMorgan Chase Foundation with additional support from The PrivateBank and The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation for the student matinee performances.  Additional support provided by Friends of “Too Hot to Handel”, “N’DIGO”, and “Chicago Jazz Magazine”.

We also highly recommend America's #1 Nutcracker, running through the 27 at Auditorium Theatre.   Check out our video interviews with some of the Joffrey Nutcracker kids and our original dress rehearsal footage (2011) right here.

Auditorium Theatre 2013 Subscriptions

Subscriptions for the Auditorium Theatre’s current season are now on sale. For more information or to purchase a subscription call (312) 341-2356 or visit
The Auditorium’s season packages include:

2-Show Jazz Series – Save 10% when you purchase tickets to both “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah” on January 19 – 20, 2013 and River North Dance Chicago with Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic - The Cuban Project on April 13, 2013.

About the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, located at 50 E Congress Pkwy, is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural and community programming to Chicago, and to the continued restoration and preservation of the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Theatre. The Auditorium Theatre is generously supported by the Illinois Arts Council, CityArts, and the Palmer House Hilton. For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theater tours, call (312) 341-2310 or visit

Sunday, December 9, 2012

ACT OUT OPENING: War Horse #Broadway in Chicago


Theatre tickets are a great clutter busting idea for the holidays and multigenerational fun!   Did you catch the War Horse movie?   Now all the excitement and action is LIVE on stage in a Broadway in Chicago extravaganza, opening December 18th at the gorgeous, ornate Cadillac Palace! The production is just in town through January 5th so book your tickets now.   The time frame is perfect for gifting and for making memories with visiting relatives.

War Horse
Theatre : Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago Illinois

Dates : December 18, 2012 - January 05, 2013

Running time: Two hours, 45 minutes with one intermission

A remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship.

England, 1914. As World War One begins, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He's soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

This powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs, is a show of phenomenal inventiveness that is currently playing to packed houses in London, New York and Toronto. At its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets created by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, that bring to life breathing, galloping, charging horses strong enough for men to ride.

Ticket prices are $30 to $105.

Groups of 15+ now on sale: 312-977-1710

Google Analytics