ChiIL Live Shows was front and center for opening night of One Name Only and we were blown away by the shear talent, creativity and energy of the actors and the writer. This was our first foray into Black Ensemble Theater's sweet, new performance space, and it looks like they've found a keeper. The auditorium is a great size--small enough to be intimate, and large enough to accommodate, with a small 2nd balcony, great sight lines, and a welcoming atmosphere. There was even space for a live band just behind a screen, center stage in the back.
One Name Only is a clever format for live theatre, using an elimination style reality show to showcase the characters' strengths and weaknesses and advance the plot in an exciting way. The imitations of music industry legends are at once high praise and parody, caricature and classic. Ultimately they are pure, exhilarating fun. The tributes had the audience alternately laughing in recognition of familiar quirks and mannerisms and tearing up at the poignant power vocals.
We highly recommend checking out One Name Only. It's a life affirming, character driven celebration that's a joy to see.
Check out our past coverage here, then check out this show while you still can! One Name Only must close 11/11/12.
TREASURES AND TRIBUTES Announced for Next Season
Jackie Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of the Black Ensemble Theater, announces the Black Ensemble Theater’s 36th Season of Excellence titled “Treasures and Tributes.” The 36th season includes original musicals paying tribute to the Doo Wop era, Curtis Mayfield, Howlin Wolf, and Chicago’s Golden Soul.
“After our record breaking first year in our new home with more than $2.5 million in ticket sales, we wanted a Season that would guarantee hit after hit. And we feel that with this astounding season of Treasures and Tributes, we will continue our enormous success. Music will continue to be the dominant theme of the Season offering the exciting genres of Doo Wop, Blues, Rhythm and Blues and Soul,” says Jackie Taylor.
Jackie Taylor and her team of Associate Directors Rueben Echoles and Daryl Brooks have elected to make a change in the theater’s usual tradition. Each play will be run as scheduled instead of extending for a lengthy time. Taylor comments, “We are in a new space and we want to continue pushing the momentum forward. In that sense we think it is important to concentrate on the variety of the productions rather than the length. This allows us to better promote our 5 Play Card while offering even more flexibility in its use over a subscription.”
The Black Ensemble Theater’s 36th Season of Excellence: Treasures and Tributes includes:
Doo Wop Shoo Bop
Written by Jackie Taylor, Jimmy Tillman 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.
It’s All-Right To Have A Good Time (The Story of Curtis Mayfield)
Written by Liz Catherine
Directed by Jackie Taylor and Daryl Brooks
April 25, 2013-June 23, 2013
Opening: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Black Ensemble’s first tribute of the season is the story of a musical giant. He was the master song writer of his time. From the music of the Impressions like “Gypsy Woman,” “I’m So Proud,” “Choice of Colors” to the movie hits like “Superfly,” he was a genius of a musician, a dynamite songwriter and a loving human being. The music of Chicago’s own Curtis Mayfield is known and celebrated all over the world.
Howlin At The Moon (The Story of Howlin Wolf)
Written by Jackie Taylor and Jimmy Tillman
Directed by Rueben Echoles
Starring Rick Stone
July 25, 2013-September 15, 2013
Opening: Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
When it first premiered in 2003, Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun Times wrote “It's Rick Stone who consistently knocks your socks off in his terrifically sustained performance. And as he moves through Wolf's hits—"Red Rooster," "Goin' Down Slow," "I Ain't Superstitious," "Baby Please Don't Go" and more—it's the audience that begins howlin' loudest.” And for our second treasure of the season, Rick Stone is coming back to do it again in this love story reflecting the life and times of one of the greatest blues singers the world has ever known – Howlin Wolf.
Chicago’s Golden Soul
Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor
October 17, 2013-January 5, 2014
Opening: Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
The fantastic BE season will end with a combination of Treasure and Tribute. First produced in 1998, this wonderful treasure of a production is a tribute to the music that put Chicago on the map as a national musical force. This Chicago celebration brings back the music of Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites, Gene Chandler, Barbara Acklin and many, many more in this rollicking tribute to the music that made Chicago famous.
Black Ensemble Theater performance times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00.
Ticket prices are as follows:
Previews are $45; Tickets during the regular run are $55 (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday matinees) and $65 (Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees).
The Five Play Card is a much more flexible way of becoming a subscriber to the theater’s 36th Season of Excellence: Treasures and Tributes. The Five Play Card can be used for one person to see 5 plays or to bring 4 other friends to one show or in any other combination that adds up to five. The Five Play Cards issued in 2013 will be good for one year.
Gold Five Play Card, $247.50, can be used on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday matinees. The Platinum Five Play Card, $292.50, can be used for any performance.
Tickets and The Five Play Card are available at the box office, 4450 N. Clark Street and by phone, (773) 769-4451. Tickets are also available online,www.ticketmaster.com. All performances are held at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street.
The remainder of the 2012 season includes: One Name Only (A Different Kind of Reality Show), written and directed by Black Ensemble Associate Director Rueben Echoles, running now through November 11, 2012; (Highly recommended!) and the return of holiday favorite The Other Cinderella, written, produced and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor, with choreography by Rueben Echoles, November 23 – January 13.
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.
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 www.BlackEnsembleTheater.org or call 773-769-4451.